Green Calgary



Is there $175 a month in your compost bin?

by Lauren Mangion Filed in: Composting, Food Choices, Shopping

The current state of our food system and the disconnect between food and consumers is a major component of the Healthy Homes program's educational mandate. Understandably, many people struggle with the cost of organic and local food compared to the largely subsidized, government supported (both financially and through policies that favor large-scale agribusiness) industrialized system. There are many reasons that sustainable food costs more- the most logical being that it is worth more; to our health, to the environment, to our local economy and to our resilience as a city. However, sometimes the bottom line outsmarts logic and even the things that we value most highly.

So, here’s a great consideration for those that have a hard time justifying the higher cost of organic and local food… how much food do you throw out on a monthly basis? A recent article from Grist found that Americans toss $175 on average per month into their compost or garbage bins. But it’s not just our neighbors to the south with the large tab on food waste. Alive Magazine ‘s article “Waste Not , Want Not” breaks down Canada’s $27 billion in food that goes to landfills or composting systems. Canadian households are responsible for the majority of this large sum, with 51% of food purchased going to the curb.

Cracking down on food waste may just be the catalyst that many of us need to make some room in our food budget for high quality, whole foods that are grown locally without chemicals. But how do you put it into practice?

#1- Rethink.  Ask yourself when admiring a 5 for 1 sale on heads of lettuce how many of those heads you can reasonably consume before they start to spoil?

#2- Be proactive. If you see foods in your fridge losing freshness and appeal, find ways to preserve them before they go past the point of no return. Herbs can be dried and useful in meals to come, vegetables and meat can go into soups and stews and frozen, berries boiled with some sugar for a yummy sauce that can also be frozen.

#3- Invest in better food storage techniques. Certain foods- mushrooms, for instance, do not tolerate plastic for long- find out what type of environment your favorite fruits and veggies prefer to help prolong their freshness.

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