In this episode of Gutsy Matters we are really excited to speak about one our passions at Stored Naturally, and that is reducing household food waste.
We spoke with Mark Barthel who joined the Fight Food Waste CRC team as a Special Advisor in August 2019 having moved from the UK to Australia. In addition to his CRC role, where he is leading the development of a Food Waste Reduction Roadmap with Woolworths, he is supporting Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) and the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment in the implementation of Australia’s National Food Waste Strategy.
Mark has been directly involved in developing the international evidence base for food loss and waste, with over 15 years’ experience of quantifying and preventing food loss and waste in the UK, Europe, North and South America, Africa and Australia.
He has also helped establish world-leading voluntary agreements between the public and private sector to reduce food waste and food insecurity and drive product and packaging innovation and has run award-winning behaviour change campaigns, like Love Food Hate Waste, which is being used in a growing number of countries, states and cities, including four Australian States.
7.3 million tonnes of food every year --> worth about 20 to 25 billion dollars to the Australian economy!
AND, 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions
Which at the household level, is costing the average household about $3,000/yr.
34% of food is wasted at the household level --> that's 2.5 million tonnes of food! 92% of that goes straight to landfill and generates over 7.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions within landfill. It's a really important issue both for consumers budgets and for our environment and natural resources.
Mark discusses the research being done to understand what is going on in Australian homes. The surveys have found that in the week that the survey work was done
almost 1/2 of the households surveyed had thrown out vegetables and herbs
almost 1/2 of the households surveyed had thrown out
1/3 of the households surveyed had thrown out fresh fruit
1/4 of the households surveyed had thrown out meat and seafood
Often consumers are wasting uneaten food that was forgotten (or lost) in the refrigerator and is past its “use by” date.
The second biggest area of food waste might surprise you! It's at the farm level. 31% of food grown in Australia never leaves the farm. Why? Because farmers are growing fruits and vegetables to meet supply contract standards demanded by the retailers. They are growing more food is being grown than is required to have enough that meets the contract quality and size specifications demanded by their customers, whether they be retailers or wholesalers for restuarant chains.
This excess food, that's not the perfect size, shape or weight never leaves the farm! This is where the innovation of the Upple product fits - it uses the handpicked apples that are too big or too small for the supply contract to make a smooth, whole apple drink that is both convenient and nutritious (even more nutritious than apple juice). We featured the Upple storey in this Gutsy Matters episode.
"we seem to have forgotten that what's really important about food is how it tastes and the nutrition it provides and not necessarily how it looks"
One of our previous Gutsy Matters Podcasts guests, Ashley Jubinville (the Kitchen Coach for busy families who want healthier food), believes we have and in this episode Mark points out that one of the upsides of Covid is that that more families are cooking together again.
We're reconnecting with our food, and remembering how to combine different flavours and different cuisines to make a healthy and nutritious meal. One of our earliest Gutsy Matters interviews was with Veet Karen about how to reduce food waste by being 'recipe free' and creative in the kitchen.
The impact of food culture also plays a big part. Mark points out that in the Italians have the lowest level of food waste in the whole of Europe because from a young age children are involved in the cooking and a meal is a social occasion for the extended family.
"those countries that have never really experienced convenience foods or pre-prepared foods are much more able to cook and prepare food in a way that reduces food waste"
Awareness is the first step. Mark has found that once household's are aware of how much they are wasting and how much money that costs then they become very motivated to change.
A great first step for awareness is to use a kitchen diary to discover avoidable food waste - to understand which food groups are being wasted and is a problem with preparing too much food, cooking too much food or serving too much food.
Then after awareness, it all comes down to consumer education.
Check what food is already in the fridge, freezer and pantry before you go shopping.
Make a shopping list. Mark recommends the app his family uses, called BRING. The reason they love it and use it is because everyone has access to the same shopping list and because it's so easy to use. https://getbring.com/#!/app
Meal Plan - plan the meals for the week ahead before you go shopping (another thing Ashley Jubinville has done for you).
Batch cooking - and then being careful with portion sizes when freezing or storing the extra serves.
Have good leftover recipes. Ashley Jubinville is particularly good at this, check out her recipes blog where she gives you the recipe, how to batch it and how to use the leftovers. Her recipe books are exceptional too.
ask "how hungry are you?" before you start cooking the meal
use the portion calculator at https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portion-planner
Knowing how to store food correctly. If you are unsure the A to Z of Food Storage webpage is an outstanding resource - https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/food-storage-a-z
Knowing which foods can be frozen and which ones can't and how to defrost them and cook them safely. Again, if unsure check the A to Z Food Storage guide.
Before freezing, label leftovers with the date and numbers of serves in the container.
Use the correct containers for freezing.
We of course
Well the debate is still out, some people like Randal who was one of our first guests believes that if we didn't waste so much food, particularly fresh produce, we'd have more than enough to feed everyone. Mark on the other believes we are in the perfect storm for motivating change; we're going to need 50% more food by 2030 and we're also going to need 30% more water and 30% more energy and all in the context of rising population, growing middle class and mass urbanisation, as well as climate risk. "By 2050 two thirds of us will be living in cities, so we're suddenly concentrating food demand in a way that's never been seen before in history." Mark Barthel