Help end food waste | Food and our planet | What you can do | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Help end food waste

(Credit: madabandon via Flickr.)

You're eating local, maybe organic, or even growing your own food. Make sure you don't end up throwing out the fruits and vegetables of your hard-earned labour. Besides being a waste of money, time and energy, unused food that ends up in landfills is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases.

The stats are staggering:

  • Close to half of all food produced worldwide is wasted — discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens.
  • As much as 30 per cent of food, worth about $48 billion, is thrown away in the US each year. (The average household there throws out about 215 kilograms of food each year — around $600 dollars worth.)
  • In Toronto, single-family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year (although that city's expanding composting program captures about 75 per cent of that). That means one in four food purchases still ends up in the garbage. (Toronto taxpayers spend nearly $10 million a year getting rid of food waste that's not composted.)
  • Over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables in North America don't even make it onto store shelves because they're not pretty enough for picky consumers.
  • About 20 per cent of Canada's methane emissions (a greenhouse gas that traps more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide) come from landfills.
  • When people toss food, all the resources to grow, ship and produce it get chucked, too, including massive volumes of water. In the US alone, the amount of water loss from food waste is like leaving the tap running and pouring 40 trillion litres of water down the drain.

Most food waste won't happen if we take the time to plan better and sharpen our food storage skills.

Here's a handy tip sheet to help you out.