Make a lasting change on Earth Day by kicking your food waste habits

Kiwi consumers have a secret dirty habit that emits more tonnes of carbon emissions each year than 150,000 cars.

In 2021 we threw away enough food waste to keep entire population of Dunedin fed for three years, and the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust is urging us to be inspired by Earth Day on April 22nd and make lasting changes to the way we manage our groceries.

Carmel Ireland, Project Manager at the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust says the changes we can make this year are simple but significant.

“Earth Day is all about action. Despite the enormous challenges facing the planet, we can all make a difference. Sustainable shopping habits don’t have to be time-consuming or expensive; in fact, throwing away food is currently costing the average Kiwi over $600 a year, so there’s a financial incentive as well as an environmental bonus,” she says.

“Make a start with ‘whole vegetable’ and ‘whole fruit’ cooking. This means using as much of the fresh produce as you can rather than throwing away parts of it. You will not only reduce waste, but you’ll also benefit from the nutrients stored in the skin, cores, and stems.”

Ireland’s top tips for whole fruit and vegetable cooking include:

  • Save stems and peel for soups and stock 

  • Roast vegetables with the skin on

  • Slice stems of broccoli and cauliflower into a stirfry

  • Freeze excess herbs in a little water in ice cube trays

  • Simmer fruit core when making porridge for added flavour

  • Use stalks like carrot & beetroot tops to make pesto.

The theme of Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest in our Planet’ and this year the annual day of global climate action encourages us to take a close look at our ‘foodprint’ or the way in which our diet affects the climate.

“Choosing meals and snacks that use lots of fresh, locally grown and in-season fruit and vegetables is an easy way to save the planet. The United Nations has declared that plant-based diets have the greatest and most immediate benefit to the climate as they conserve natural resources and produce less waste,” says Ireland.

“However, it’s important to manage your household’s fruit and vegetables well to ensure they stay fresher for longer and out of the rubbish. Fresh produce should always be stored correctly, you’ll not only reduce waste, but this is the best way to ensure you get the maximum nutritional value from each bite.”

For more tips and recipes to make the most of seasonal produce, head to the 5+ A Day website and follow the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust on social media.

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