1 December 2009

Busting Food Myths with Nicole Senior

Myth: We can grow more food or import it. Technology will find a solution to food supply.

Nicole Senior

We must make some changes if our children are to inherit a decent quality of life.
While many of us are lucky enough to pick and choose what we eat for good health, we need to act now for our children to enjoy this privilege in the future. There’s much each one of us can do, and as the saying goes, think global, act local.

I attended the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance’s sydneyfoodfairness.org.au Food Summit 2009 recently and listened to a number of experts share some of the challenges ahead for Sydney (where I live) for human health and the health of the planet. It may well apply to your city too. Some of the key problems Sydneysiders need to deal with are food waste, poor agricultural practices and loss of agricultural land. With the super-indulgence of Christmas around the corner, food waste seems appropriate to tackle head on this month.

In New South Wales, 38% of the average household garbage bin is filled with food waste – about 800,000 tonnes a year. Look at it this way, we throw out about $600 million worth of fresh food because we don’t get to around to cooking it. And it’s not just a Sydney problem. Research conducted in 2004 found Australians were throwing away $5 billion worth of food every year– the equivalent of one out of every five grocery bags.

As well as throwing money out the window, food waste in landfill is an environmental disaster. Not only are the inputs of energy, water, feed and fertiliser squandered, but for every tonne of food waste, almost a tonne (about 9/10 of one actually) of greenhouse gas is produced.

Adding insult to injury is the large number of people who don’t get enough to eat, both at home and abroad. More than a million Australians for example – many of them children – experience food insecurity on a regular basis.

What can we do? Research shows, many people simply have no idea of the impact their food waste has, so awareness is vital. The UK is doing a great job with their campaign http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/.

Make avoiding food waste in your home your Number One New Year’s Resolution. With some simple changes to your shopping and storing routines you can help save your pennies and our planet.

  • Plan your meals a few days or a week ahead. A little planning goes a long way.
  • Make a shopping list – and stick to it.
  • Shop smart. Only buy what you need. Don’t be seduced by specials for foods you won't eat.
  • Store fresh food properly so that it keeps well.
  • Look after leftovers. This includes the veggie peelings and scraps from preparing the meal and the meal itself. Don’t automatically bin vegetable peelings. A compost or a worm farm can happily gobble up scraps while producing natural fertiliser for your garden or a community garden.
  • Store the meal leftovers properly and transform them into new dishes or enjoy the next day as a ‘free’ lunch.