Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Here are some shocking statistics!Australians throw out three million tonnes of food every year – the equivalent of 145 kilograms for each and every one of us.
A 2005 study by The Australia Institute estimated that food waste was costing Australians $5.3 billion per year.
Environmental advocacy group Planet Ark looked at how much food was being wasted by Australian households. They found as much as 25 per cent of food ended up in the rubbish bin.
Food waste:-
• Is a waste of money
• Is a waste of all resources that went into producing, packaging, transporting and storing the food - water, nutrients, labour, electricity and oil
• contributes to landfill, and greenhouse gases as it breaks down
• from supermarkets is often quite edible- either has damaged packaging or past a use by date
• is unethical

There has been a recent tendency for households to purchase supersized fridges. At the same time the number of people in each household has been gradually shrinking. As with many developments in our society, it just doesn’t make sense. Admittedly Australians are eating more than they ever did, but that’s causing many of us to be overweight. Having a bigger fridge full of tempting treats does not help one little bit. Of course having a bigger fridge also means you need a bigger kitchen and ultimately a bigger house. As these monoliths are on 24 hours a day, they use up enormous amounts of electricity giving us a bigger electricity bill. And that also generally means more coal being burnt to generate that extra power.
Do we need a big fridge?
Possibly, if you have a very large number of people to feed, but if you have an average sized household I have my doubts. My guess is that the bigger fridge just means more food gets lost at the back. Most people shop on a regular basis and really do not need to keep masses of perishable food on hand for weeks at a time. Storing food for weeks in the fridge or freezer adds to its cost.
In our situation we have a limited supply of electricity (solar power) so we have opted to go with a relatively small gas fridge, and it serves our household of 5 adults very well. It enforces a discipline of common sense. We have found alternative ways of storing perishable foods. Here are some of them:-
• Roots crops such as beetroot, carrots, parsnips store really well for many months if left in the ground- they even continue to grow
• Onions and garlic store well if hung in a dry coolish place
• Pumpkins and potatoes once harvested will keep for many months if cured well and are stored in a dry cool dark place.
• Lettuces, silver beet, celery and other greens can be harvested a few leaves at a time when needed
• Most fruit will keep for a while on the tree and then for several weeks if stored well
• We collect fresh eggs from our chooks and these will keep for several weeks if stored in a cool pantry.
• Many foods are easily dried, bottled or preserved.
• Another option for food that just needs to be kept cool but not cold, is a “cool cupboard”. This is a well insulated cupboard with a pipe bringing cool air from under the house into the bottom. At the top is an outlet pipe allowing air to be vented. Warmer air rises out of the top vent drawing cool air in at the bottom. The continual movement of cool air keeps food cool.

An ACF study found that food consumption is responsible for 28% of the average Australian's greenhouse gas pollution, whereas personal and public transport accounts for only 10.5%. So, growing even some of our own food can make a great a contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.
There is much publicity about big picture items such as turning off lights and appliances when not in use, but there is much to be gained for our hip pocket and the environment by just being a bit more thoughtful with our food purchases.
Let's all minimise food waste. If there is leftover food, feed it to chooks so it can be converted into eggs, or compost it so the nutrients can enrich soils, but please do not throw it into the rubbish. Food is too good to waste.

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