Buying imperfect produce could be the answer to Canada’s food waste problem

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In 2017, a study was done in Canada to calculate the amount of food waste generated by the average household.

The results concluded that 63 per cent of the food Canadians throw away could have been eaten.

Canada is one of the worst countries globally for wasting food, which in part, is due to people’s lack of interest in purchasing imperfect produce at grocery stores that are still edible and discarding food that could be consumed but doesn’t look as appetizing to eat.

Discounting and hyping up the value — both for your wallet and the planet — of ugly duckling lines of produce in grocery stores is slowly becoming the norm.

Smaller businesses like Zero Waste Bulk, an uptown Waterloo sustainable grocer that offers “packaging-free goods, local & organic products, and plastic-free alternatives” are providing customers with advertised products that may have originally been overlooked but are worthy of being bought just the same.

Recently shared on their store’s Facebook page was a post about spotty bananas that were for sale which stressed the necessity of buying food like this by saying, “It’s important to note that a lot of food goes to waste because of “best before” dates which are NOT the same as expiry dates.

A product reaching its best before date does not necessarily mean it has gone bad.

Sometimes they are good to eat for much longer than the listed date though they might not be at their freshest.”

Larger grocery chains like Loblaws are also starting to put this line of thinking into practice by stocking blemished and mishappen fruits and vegetables at lower prices.

These seemingly uglier versions of a produce item costing at least 30 per cent less than their better-looking counterparts.

For students especially, buying more sustainable and cost friendly fresh food options can be difficult if they aren’t willing to participate in shopping methods such as these or there aren’t as many grocery stores that have these options available to begin with.

Buying local isn’t going to be the answer to every problem on the planet, but it does help considerably with waste management and putting a strain on the environment.

Shops like Legacy Greens and J&P Grocery in downtown Kitchener, are great examples of stores that discount foods that are approaching their expiry date.

As well, their produce is shipped from local farms, and the amount of energy that’s expended in order to get it is more minimal than a chain grocery store.

These stores also try and use all of the food they have in some way or another so they aren’t throwing anything away that they don’t need to.

Students on a budget could put this into practice with their cooking and meal prep methods as well in order to avoid any unneeded waste.

Instead of chucking food away the second you think it looks unappealing, cook it into something or use it.

As long as it’s clean and still safe to eat, there’s no reason why it should be going into the garbage.

Luckily, we have a growing number of resources on campus that are providing students with additional education and understanding of how to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

With events like “How to be Zero Waste!” hosted by the Laurier SDG Advocacy Network in the Concourse and increasing availability for waste-free and plastic-free alternatives, the future for sustainability is hopeful, especially if stores and university campuses continue to encourage it as they have been doing.

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