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  • Writer's pictureMichal Garvey

Food Waste Action Week 2024

We know, we know, there’s a day, a week, a month for everything and food waste is no different. But it’s a missed trick for us not to remind you when these days come around. So on that, 18-24 March is Food Waste Action week.

Now in its fourth year, Food Waste Action Week was started in the UK by WRAP, a climate action NGO tackling the causes of the climate crisis and giving the planet a sustainable future.  The campaign runs across the globe encouraging governments, NGOs, businesses and citizens to come together and take action against food waste. 

The 2024 theme is “Choose What You’ll Use”, promoting consumers to only purchase what they will consume.  We’ve all found ourselves reaching for the bulk pack to save a few extra cents, but what are we really saving if those extra items aren’t needed and even worse could end up in the bin? 

In 2023, Rabobank and KiwiHarvest released research to say that Kiwi households throw away a mind-boggling $3.2 billion worth of food each year. In both a cost of living and climate crisis, throwing food away makes no sense whatsoever. 

Small steps taken when purchasing, preparing and storing foods can make a huge difference to both our pockets and the planet. Here are our top three tips to help you only “choose what you’ll use”.

First up, opting for shops that allow you to buy only what you need is a great way to save money in the long run. How often have you had to purchase 500g of something that you only need 2 teaspoons of for a recipe, only to come back to the jar months later unsure of what it actually contains? We love shopping at places like GoodFor (you can find them on the app!) to allow us to buy quantities that match what we need.

I have definitely been a sucker for that big bag of discounted capsicums, only to find out they need to be used within a few days resulting in capsicum salads, pasta sauces, curries and chutneys for weeks to come. So secondly, sourcing your fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets is a great way to be able to grab only what you need. A lot of the time, the produce you’ll find here, is TAG 2 - aka it might be rejected from the supermarkets but it’s often fresher than what you’ll get from the duopoly. This helps reduce waste in two ways - firstly ensuring that the food that’s grown is consumed and secondly, it’ll last longer once it’s in your home. 

An additional benefit of both bulk food shops and farmers markets is that you’ll also be reducing unnecessary plastic packaging from much of your food. 

And thirdly, meal planning is a great way to make sure you’ll only buy what you’ll use for the week. Look at the meals you plan on making, write your shopping list based on what you need and is not already in your pantry and stick to it! If your recipe includes something large like a pumpkin or those jumbo kumara that are around at the moment, find another recipe that will use the other half in the same week so that it doesn’t go to waste. The Foodprint team love the Two Raw Sisters app for this, you can search your ingredient, eg “pumpkin” and it will show you recipes that contain that ingredient. We’ve also been having fun with Chat GPT, though to be honest some of what it suggests sounds totally inedible to proceed with caution here!

With recent increased costs, you might find yourself tempted by bulk purchases to make the most of the savings which we totally understand. While this isn’t quite in line with the theme of the week, we know it can work for some people. If you do find yourself doing this, make sure you have a plan for the extra items. This could include, making twice the recipe and putting half in the freezer; freezing raw or partially cooked ingredients; using the item you have an excess of as the key ingredient in your next meal planning and ultimately understanding how long the items will last.

Of course, one of the easiest things you can do to take action against food waste is to find something to rescue on the app!

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