Summer is just around the corner, and with the warm weather and longer sunlit days comes an influx of fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies which we all love. Unfortunately, sometimes there’s more food coming into our kitchens than we can eat while it is still fresh. To help reduce your food waste and, by extension, reduce your impact on the environment, here are a few tips on how to make that happen:
Compost and green bins
Taking part in Orillia’s well-established green bin program is one of the easiest ways to reduce your food waste (https://www.orillia.ca/en/living-here/greenbinyardwaste.aspx#). Knowing what goes into the green bin and what goes into your solid waste garbage is the fastest and most efficient way to make a positive environmental impact in your kitchen! Overall, the City’s ‘green bin process’ takes about eight months to compost food waste from all across the city, converting it into garden-ready compost for next year’s gardens.
However, if you are motivated to make bigger changes, try composting at home. This can be very rewarding as it allows you to realize a significant reduction in your home’s eco-footprint plus see an improvement in the health of your home gardens. If you want to learn more about composting at home, we recommend you check out https://www.nrdc.org/stories/composting-101
Freeze your fresh produce
Freezing is proven way to reduce food waste, particularly when we pick or purchase too many fresh fruits in season. Those bright red local strawberries are just too much to resist as are Ontario’s world-famous peaches. Rather than trying to eat them all at once or having to throw out produce as it goes bad, why not sort your fruits and vegetables into serving sizes and freeze everything you aren’t going to eat or serve over the next week?
More freezing Ideas:
- Freeze your limes, lemons, and other citrus fruit into ice cubes for a refreshing way to cool a glass of water and add some tang during the hotter weather.
- Cut up your favourite berries, then freeze them for smoothies year-round or add them to ice cream on a really hot summer day. Another benefit? Prepping your berries or fruit beforehand takes away all the work in the future!
- Extra veggies can be frozen for future strews, soups, stocks, pasta dishes and stir-fries.
By freezing surplus produce in-season, not only will you be eating fresh year-round, you will also reduce your carbon footprint by cutting down on purchasing bagged frozen produce from the grocery store. And by-the-way – when you are freezing produce and meats for future use, please be sure to use recyclable cellophane or containers.
Don’t forget about your scraps. ln lieu of composting, veggie scraps such as peels, ends and cores can be put in the freezer and saved for vegetable stock. Making your own stock will fill your home with the most amazing smell, and it is a great and easy alternative to high-salt grocery alternatives without being difficult to make at all. It’s as simple as filling a container with your scraps and keeping it in the freezer until the container is filled. Then pop the scraps into a pot and add water to cover. Simmer the pot for 40 minutes, add spices to taste, then remove the scraps and you are done!
Taking part in one or all of these food waste reduction steps can make a positive impact on your kitchen, wallet and environmental footprint. What we love about these changes is that anyone can make the move to greater sustainability right in their own kitchen without too much work. Small steps are the best way for our community to live healthier and more sustainable lives.