Yes, some of that is still your fault if you put leftovers in the trash instead of Tupperware, but the vast majority of food waste happens at production, processing and retail levels rather than on the consumption side.
To help address this, France famously passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilizer. Here in Canada, food rescue organizations like Second Harvest help get unspoiled food from retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and caterers to charities, delivering ingredients for over 22,000 meals daily.
But we live in hi-tech times, so technology is also being used as a weapon in the war on food waste. Here's a look at how homegrown Canadian tech is trying to tackle our food waste crisis.
Leonhard Foeger / Reuters
Jay Subramanian, a plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph, and his team of biotech scientists have devised a food spray that the CBC reports "uses a nanotechnology-based application of hexanal, a natural plant extract that prevents fruit spoilage."
This enzyme-inhibiting hexanal slows ripening by preserving a fruit's cellular walls, extending shelf life by as much as 50 per cent. Mangoes keep fresh up to 23 days, bananas up to 40 days and peaches and nectarines last another 10 days beyond their current single week. It also increases farmer revenues 15 per cent.
Fruit is one of food waste's biggest culprits -- 30 percent of fruits and veggies don't even get on store shelves -- making this invention a potentially huge player in addressing the issue.
Launching in Toronto later this summer but already garnering a ton of attention, the Flashfood app aims to save people money and save tons of food from landing in landfills.
"Flashfood is essentially the discount food rack on your cellphone and it's a means for grocery stores, restaurants, food vendors, being able to resell their surplus food before they're going to throw it out," founder and CEO Josh Domingues told City TV.
The app allows users to purchase "flashsale" food via their phones and pick it up later that day, though specific logistics reportedly remain in the works.
The tech startup's ambitious plan is to eventually expand throughout Canada and then go global.
THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley
Hyperspectral Chemical Imaging
About 18 per cent of food waste happens at the manufacturing level, according to a report by Ontario's Provision Coalition, "the food and beverage manufacturers' one-stop source for sustainability."
One solution to reducing that waste may be "hyperspectral chemical imaging technology for production line grading and sorting of leafy greens, carrots and potatoes," reports Food in Canada, a food and beverage processing industry publication.
The initiative is a collaboration between Ippolito Fruit & Produce, Riga Farms, EarthFresh Foods and Amazing Grains working with Ontario chemical imaging company P&P Optica and industrial equipment company Axiom Millwrighting & Fabrication. The University of Guelph and Conestoga College will be in charge of testing the technology's effectiveness.
"Currently, many produce manufacturers in Canada are using aging technology for sorting and grading. At Ippolito, we connected with our industry peers to explore and then implement new technology – technology that has broader food industry application and will be shared with companies across the country," CEO Joel Ippolito told Food in Canada.
Inspired by a friend's sushi shop tossing out unsold food at day's end, despite being sold at a discount, Ubifood founder Caroline Pellegrini decided that an app would be the best way to connect consumers and retailers.
Currently exclusive to Montreal, Ubifood gives geolocation-based real-time push notifications to inform users of discounted food in their area.
The sales pitch is that it makes money for cafes, bakeries and restaurants while saving money for customers and, most importantly, reducing food waste.
"Everybody benefits. The consumers, retailers, and the planet – all at once," Pellegrini told CBC.
Okanagan Specialty Fruits
Despite continuing if unfounded public skepticism over GMOs, B.C.-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits has received approval by Canadian and American authorities to sell their signature non-browning Arctic Apple.
Developed in Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties, this first approved biotech apple resists browning when sliced or bruised because the genes that trigger the oxidization process have been replaced with non-browning ones.
According to CP, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Arctic Apples "are as safe and nutritious as traditional apple varieties" while Health Canada concluded the GMO apple "is safe for consumption, still has all its nutritional value and therefore does not differ from other apples available on the market."
They're scheduled to start arriving in the U.S. later this year and will be available for sale in Canada by fall 2017.
While on a fishing trip, biotech entrepreneur Brad Marchant and environmentalist David Suzuki came up with a concept for an environmentally-friendly feed source for aquaculture and livestock. That idea would become the Langley, B.C.-based Enterra Feed Corporation's Renewable Food for Animals and Plants.
Using a proprietary bioconversion technology under development since 2007, Enterra turns pre-consumer food waste -- i.e. the 25 per cent of food that doesn't make it to retail, largely fruits and vegetables -- into animal feed and fertilizer.
Rescued from landfills, the food waste is fed to millions of indigenous black soldier flies and the subsequent insect larvae are then turned into nutrient-rich protein meals and feed oil, a sustainable process that creates a natural fertilizer as a byproduct.
But while the feed is currently being sold in the U.S., Global News reports that Enterra is still awaiting approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for sales here at home. Their fertilizer has been approved.
Todd Korol / Reuters
While not invented here, this summer Health Canada is launching a public consultation on a plan to irradiate ground beef to kill bacterial microorganisms like E. coli and salmonella in the wake of outbreaks like Alberta's XL Foods in 2012.
CBC reports that a recent government review has "determined that ground beef treated with irradiation is safe to eat and retains its nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance."
Irradiation, which involves exposing food to ionizing radiation like gamma rays or X-rays, is already used in Canada for potatoes, onions, wheat, flour and spices.
As well as increasing food safety, irradiation also prevents premature spoilage to increase shelf life and reduce food waste.
Tim Sly, a professor in the School of Public Health at Toronto's Ryerson University, told CBC that by preventing massive recalls, irradiation could avoid the wastage of millions of pounds of food.
Reducing Food Waste: What You Can Do
'Best Before' doesn't mean 'Throw Away After..'
Hilary Benn, the former environment minister, said people should ignore "best before" labels and decide for themselves if food is still good.
Benn said in 2009 that "best before" dates served little useful purpose and could be cheerfully ignored - they just mean when the food is at its freshest.
He said: "There's 'use by' and that's very important because that's food safety; but when it comes to 'sell by' or 'best before', I think we as consumers [need to] understand better what those labels mean.|
The US Department of Agriculture says as long as you scrub the mould off, then it's totally fine.
"It is normal for products like this to acquire surface mould," the Safe Food Handling fact sheet says.
Don't eat any mouldy cooked meat though, for god's sake.
And some kinds of mouldy cheese
For cheeses where mould isn’t part of the processing, mold generally can’t get deep into the product. For hard cheeses, such as Asiago, Pecorino, Parmesan and Cheddar, lop off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (to avoid cross-contamination, be careful not to touch the mold with the knife).
And "firm" fruit and veg, even if it's a bit mouldy
So think, cabbage, peppers, carrots. Like the cheeses, dense fruits and vegetables are not easily penetrated by mould. The same rule of thumb applies to firm produce: cut off at least an inch around and below the mould spot (again, not touching the mold with your knife) before using.
You can pretty much ignore sell-by-dates on canned food
Get the Grilled Flank Steak with Sichuan Peppercorns recipeWine needed: a couple of sips of a dry white.
If you have just a tiny bit left in that bottle of white, save it and use it to enhance your flank steak. The flank steaks are seasoned with a simple but potent blend of peppercorns and black bean garlic paste (which you can find at any Chinese grocer).
Southwest Seafood Chowder
Get the Southwest Seafood Chowder recipeWine needed: One glass of a dry white.
Do you love clam chowder, but refrain from making it knowing that it has a serious affect on your waistline? This southwest version of the New England classic is lighter and healthier, and still just as comforting as the original.
Lentils With Red Wine And Herbs
Get the Lentils with Red Wine and Herbs recipeWine needed: quarter glass of a dry red.
With herbs and a scattering of mâche (a sweet and tender green), this stewy lentil dish becomes a perfect combination of a soup and salad. French green lentils work best here because they hold their shape when cooked. If you can't get your hands on mache, arugula or spinach make fine substitutes.
Braised Chicken all'Arrabbiata
Get the Braised Chicken all'Arrabbiata recipeWine needed: a glass of a dry white.
In chef Robert Holt's recipe, he braises the chicken with five kinds of peppers in a wood-fired oven. If you want to opt for an easier option, you can spice your chicken with poblano and chile flakes, then braise it. For extra kick, toss in some hot pickled cherry peppers.
Get the Chopped Lamb Steak with Garlicky Spinach recipeWine needed: couple of sips of dry red wine.
A chopped steak is really just a glorified hamburger. But substituting ground lamb for the traditional beef takes this diner out of the realm of just another burger and makes it a gourmet meal.
Mahimahi With Herbed White-Wine Sauce
Get the Mahimahi with Herbed White-Wine Sauce recipeWine needed: quarter glass of a dry white.
This is an easy, yet elegant dish. Perfect for a weekend dinner when you would rather spend more time at the table with others than in the kitchen preparing your meal. The natural flavors of the fresh thyme and marjoram herbs really shine through when paired with this meaty fish.
Orecchiette With Veal, Capers And White Wine
Get the Orecchiette with Veal, Capers and White Wine recipeWine Needed: half a glass of a dry white.
The tender veal ragu is perfectly paired with the shape of the orecchiette -- the sauce just hangs onto the pasta. With each bite, you will be thankful that you had that half a glass of wine left over to help make this dish.
Wild Mushroom-and-Red Wine Risotto
Get the Wild Mushroom-and-Red Wine Risotto recipeWine needed: half a glass of a dry red.
Risotto is the perfect comforting dish for a cold winter night. And regardless of what you may have heard, it is an easy dish to put together. Yes, there might be quite a bit of stirring, but that is as hard as it gets. This risotto dish stands out from others in that it uses red wine rather than white to give it that extra kick.
Get the Chicken Breasts with Potatoes and Mashed Peas recipeWine needed: a little more than half a glass of a dry white.
The classic chicken breast with a side of greens and potatoes gets a slight makeover with a few new tricks. While we all like the healthiness of chicken breast, let's be honest, sometimes it is lacking in flavor. A nice remedy for that is to quickly brown the breast in a bit of butter, and then finishing off in the oven.
Penne Rigate With Spicy Braised Swordfish
Get the Penne Rigate with Spicy Braised Swordfish recipeWine needed: half a glass of a dry white.
Swordfish is a meatier white fish and holds up nicely in pasta dishes. Paired alongside tomato sauce makes this a warming, hearty dish; and the addition of jalapeño gives it a nice, fiery kick. Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeño according to your spicy-food tolerance.
Get the Carrot Osso Buco recipeWine needed: a glass of a dry red.
Looking for a light winter meal? Carrot osso buco might just be it. A vegan take on the beloved veal shanks recipe, braised carrots take the place of the meat in this dish. Ground dried porcini mushrooms give the dish a rich, meaty flavor.
Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli
Get the Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli recipeWine needed: a glass of a dry white.
This ever-so-slightly creamy ragù made with ground beef, pancetta and ham, is flavored with tomato paste instead of canned tomatoes. A nice variation from you traditional tomato-based pasta sauce.
Velvet Corn Soup With Crab And Ham
Get the Velvet Corn Soup with Crab and Ham recipeWine needed: quarter of a glass of a dry white.
A rich and hearty soup, this unusual recipe will warm your soul. Crab and ham make an unlikely pair, but their flavors complement each other harmoniously.
Get the Baked Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Ragù recipeWine needed: a glass of a dry white.
A simple dish of baked potatoes can easily become a vegetarian dinner with the topping of wild mushroom ragu. The recipe calls for a mix of wild mushrooms, so chose your favorites here, or whichever look the best at the store.
Salmon With Shiitake And Red Wine Sauce
Tina Rupp/Food & Wine
Get the Salmon with Shiitake and Red Wine Sauce recipeWine needed: two glasses of a dry red.
Did you open a new bottle of red wine that you just didn't love? Well, whatever you do, don't dump it down the drain. Get your money's worth and turn that not-so-great bottle of red into a luxurious sauce for this salmon dish.
Your Food Will Likely Have Some Mold, Poop And Bugs In It. And That's Cool With The FDA.
Ever open a fresh bag of cereal and notice something a little... off about it? That is likely not just your imagination. According to the FDA's Defect Levels Handbook, a number of foods can legally contain up to "maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use," including "insect filth," "rot" and "Mammalian excreta."
The FDA Has NEVER Safety Tested Genetically Engineered Foods
Your Meat Takes An Ammonia Bath Before Hitting Grocery Store Shelves
Ammonia, a main ingredient in fertilizer and household cleaners, is apparently an appropriate way to kill bacteria in meat. Sure, it may be corrosive and can cause severe injury, but according to a USDA official, “it eliminates E. coli to the same degree as if you cooked the product."
The FDA And Monsanto Have A VERY Close Friend In Common
Food Containing Trans Fats Can Still Bear A 'Zero Trans Fats' Label
Think those chips are free of harmful trans fats? Think again. If a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving, the label can claim it has "0 grams of trans fats." Although the FDA recently began a campaign to claim that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer GRAS (generally recognized as safe), legislation has yet to be made against them. If you consume a number of these foods per day, you could be racking up dangerous fats without even knowing.
The FDA Is A Big Ol' Softie When It Comes To Criminal Prosecution
In 2010, the FDA agreed to crack down on misdemeanor crimes after a governmental report found the agency to be too soft on corporations that break the rules. Congress found that the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations fell short in comparison to similar agencies, in response to which the FDA admitted they were working on “developing meaningful performance measures.”
25+ Countries Have Banned rBGH, But That Doesn't Bother The FDA
rBGH is a hormone that has been banned in a number of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the European Union. Although the FDA has found that rBGH (also known as rBST) is both safe and effective, a 2009 USDA study found that less than 17 percent of cows were being injected with the hormone. Even WITHOUT an FDA ban, people know synthetic hormones are best kept out of the food system.
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