For Your Consideration

For Your Consideration

How spoiled are we?: Confessions of a household food waster

Canadians throw away 2.2 million tonnes of edible food every year

How spoiled are we?

I suppose I should be speaking for myself, but research by the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) indicates I am not alone.

According to the council, Canadians waste 2.2 million tonnes of edible food each year. That amounts to approximately 140 for the average household at a cost of $1,100.

I got to thinking about this during the recent cold snap. One evening I decided to make tacos, but when I pulled the lettuce out of the fridge it had been partially frozen.

I salvaged what I could, but only because I had already prepared everything else. The rest went in the trash, not because it wasn’t edible, but because it was yucky.

I admit to being a picky eater, not in terms of the variety of foods I like because that is extremely broad, but I like things the way I like them.

There were a few other casualties of the freeze, as well, again not because they were spoiled per se, but just not ideal.

I felt guilty about it — not only because I come from the generation that had to endure the “starving children in Africa lecture” when I was a child, but also about the money.

And the world is not really very well set up for single people. Groceries tend to be packaged in quantities for larger households and when they’re not, they’re very expensive. Of course, not nearly as expensive as having to throw away half of it.

I try to be very conscious of this.

I try to buy only what I can foresee actually consuming before it spoils.

I have adapted most of my recipes to single serving, but it’s also a challenge to cook for one and inevitably I sometimes end up with leftovers.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good with leftovers. Some things keep well, others don’t.

But more often than not, it’s just that spoiled thing again. I think about pulling out the leftovers, but think, ‘I don’t want to eat that again.

The late comedian George Carlin had a great routine on leftovers.

“Leftovers make you feel good twice. First, when you put it away, you feel thrifty and intelligent: ‘I’m saving food!’ Then, a month later, when blue hair is growing out of the ham, and you throw it away, you feel really intelligent: ‘I’m saving my life!’”

I suppose some waste is just unavoidable, but limiting it as much as possible is not just about personal finances. Food waste has a significant environmental impact as well.

The NZWC calculates a reduction of one tonne of household food waste is the equivalent of taking one gasoline-powered vehicle — which on average releases approximately 4,500 kg of CO2 annually — off the road.

Even if each of us were to reduce food waste by half, that would be close to five million less tonnes of CO2 a year.

That’s something to think about.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Dease Lake Airport is receiving $11-million in upgrades funded by the province, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and mining companies. (British Columbia Aviation Council)
Major upgrades coming to Dease Lake Airport

Airport to receive $11-million from the province, regional district and mining companies

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Witset. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Vancouver police say eight people were arrested Wednesday after anti-pipeline protesters blocked off both the entrances and exits to two buildings in the downtown core. (Instagram/Qtcatspictureclub)
8 people arrested after anti-pipeline protestors chain themselves to Vancouver buildings

Cst. Tania Visintin said demonstrators caused ‘a serious safety hazard’ downtown for hours Wednesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jamie Coutts recorded a man following her around downtown Vancouver for a half-hour on Wednesday, March 18. (Instagram screenshot/Iammjammbamm)
Man charged in alleged high-profile Vancouver stalking case that went viral online

Man faces five other charges including criminal harassment and assault with a weapon

A sea lion swims past the window of an empty viewing area Vancouver Aquarium is pictured Thursday, September 10, 2020. The Vancouver Aquarium has had to close its doors to the public due to the lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
U.S.-based theme park company buys Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium had to shut its doors in September due to COVID pandemic

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Most Read