Yes, you may purchase a mango at any time of the year by going to the grocery shop. Here are some reasons it’s probably not a good idea.
Food waste is an issue at any time, but the Fraser Valley flood two years ago exposed the vulnerability of our local food system. The issue is that we live in a linear, rather than a circular, food economy, one that focuses on reducing waste at all stages of food production, transportation, and consumption.
Our old wasteful habits must be changed. Individuals must change unless there is a societal sea change in our relationship with food.
Here are a few ideas to help you reduce food waste in your life.
Vegetables with mindfulness
Some of you may find this strange, but the next time you buy a pepper or an apple, pay attention to the colours, scents, and even the feel of the food. Consider where the food came from, how it will be cooked, and even where you will enjoy its flavour. According to the Canadian Food Guide, practising mindfulness will help you “create a sense of awareness around your everyday eating decisions.” This connection will increase your appreciation for your food, allowing you to make better decisions such as purchasing healthy snacks and reducing impulse purchases.
Locally grown berries, potatoes, and other produce have a lower carbon footprint than those trucked in from Ontario or the United States. In their operations, local producers use fewer chemicals and fertilisers. That benefits both you and the environment.
Buy Seasonal as well. It’s great to be able to buy mangos all year, but that doesn’t make it a good practise. Year-round food requires enormous amounts of energy to produce, so it has already emitted a significant amount of CO2. Produce that travels long distances to reach Canadian grocery shelves comes with extra packaging to prevent damage during transport.
Food made by hand
Not only is home cooked food healthier, but if properly stored, the hearty stew or chilli you make this weekend will keep you going longer than any canned alternative. Homemade breads, while time-consuming, taste better. Of course, being able to make or grow your own food is a huge privilege. Make something within your budget. Easy options include a vinaigrette or soup base, potato chips, or fresh salsa. Even better, no packaging means no waste, which means no additional emissions.
Every year, Canadians throw away millions of tonnes of edible food. Food production and transportation will always have some environmental cost in terms of carbon footprint. However, wasted food is wasted energy, so the energy required to get oranges, corn chips, or olives onto an East Vancouver store shelf is also wasted. But there’s an even worse side effect: landfills full of discarded food emit high levels of methane, a key greenhouse gas in climate change.
Food redistribution is a sensible solution provided by the food recovery hierarchy. This gives food that would otherwise be thrown away a second chance at discount food markets. Remember that the next time you go to Costco and buy a case of chickpeas.
How to Make Smart Grocery Purchases
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach. You’ll buy fewer snacks and/or items you don’t normally buy – and only buy groceries at the grocery store, not gifts and all the extras!
- Go armed with a list and stick to it, especially if your kids are “helping”.
- Before you go shopping, plan your meals for the week and then buy what’s on the menu. If planning for the entire week seems overwhelming, start with three or four days.
- Only shop once a week. If you go to the store every day or several times a week, you’ll spend more money.
- Shop when you have energy and are not exhausted from a long day. When you have energy and are not preoccupied, it is easier to focus and make wise decisions.
- Return your bottles and cans in exchange for the deposit you paid. If you have children, enlist their assistance and allow them to keep the money they earn.
- When you’re tired, stressed, or in a hurry, go to familiar stores. You’ll find what you’re looking for and be able to get it quickly.