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Do you know the value of your food?

COURTNEY McCLURE, for The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: Do you know how much your food is worth?

Growing up, you may have been told not to play with your food. Maybe your parents didn’t like you being picky. But did you know, in 2017, the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) researched household waste in Canada?

According to their research, 63 percent of the food Canadian’s throw away could have been eaten by others. This means, an average Canadian household wastes about 140 kilograms of food per year. The food’s value costs approximately $1,100 yearly. As a whole, Canada wastes about 2.2 million tonnes of edible food every year. That amount of food is worth nearly 17 billion dollars.

If you’re struggling to recognize the value of your food, there are some resources available on Durham Region’s website. Here are some suggestions to manage your food costs more responsibly.

Implement proper meal planning into your weekly routine, including big meals. Use a written grocery list while shopping. Buy only the items you’ve included on your shopping list, to keep a monitored flow of food quantity. If you follow these steps, you’re unlikely to buy things you don’t need or are unlikely to eat.

For example, if a recipe you’re following calls for one lemon, add that item to your list and buy that one lemon. When shopping buy loose produce instead of a bunch of produce packaged in a bag. When buying nuts, grains, and spices try buying from bulk bins if you need a small amount.

Cook your food, rather than purchasing pre-prepared and pre-cooked meals, like soups and stews, and then freeze leftovers so you can reheat and serve appropriately. For instance, if you’re going to serve one bowl of soup, instead of reheating a large pot of soup, take out the portion you’re planning to eat and reheat only that portion. Then, if you don’t finish the serving, put it into the compost.

Eat refrigerated leftovers within two to three days or freeze the leftovers within two hours of preparation for use later. If you leave food sitting on the counter for over two hours, it can get covered with bacteria, like staphylococcus. When storing leftovers in the fridge or freezer, keep them covered with a tight lid. This minimizes contaminants from infecting the food.

The marking on a product depends on the product itself. For example, most food has an expiration date. It may also say “best before” or “packaged on”. According to the Durham Region website, it’s important to know what these terms mean.

Durham Region advises residents to practice the First In, First Out (FIFO) method. When you’re unpacking groceries, move older items to the front of your fridge or cupboard. Store new items at the back. This ensures the using of leftovers and other items before spoilage.

They also advise storing food properly. For example, use the produce drawer, rather than the open refrigerator area, for storing produce, like carrots and other vegetables and fruit. This extends produce freshness.

This information is available on durham.ca, under the header Living Here. Facts about compost and wasting less food are listed under the heading Garbage and Recycling, at the side. The package of resources is called Buy It, Eat It.

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