Searching my eyes jump through the refrigerator. But while I have obviously eaten the cheese, I stumble upon other treasures from times gone by: 2 expired yoghurts, a bunch of wrinkled radishes and a broken bottle of apple juice with fur on the surface. In the fruit basket it doesn’t look much better, there are 3 pitch-black bananas in it. Without further ado I decide to take a look into the pantry – and a little later I am horrified by the amount of food that has been sorted out.
That’s almost a shopping basket full, which ends up in the trash!
Women’s Health Challenge: Gaby wants to produce less waste
The worst thing is that most Germans feel the same as I do, because the figures speak for themselves: every year 11 million tonnes of food ends up in the trash in Germany. On average, 81 kilos of food are thrown away per person and year! It is easy to reduce this amount of food waste. And money is also saved: 940 euros per year in a 4-person household! We tell you the best tips to avoid food waste.
Food waste begins with shopping
How much food do you throw away every day that’s too good for the bin? © nito / Shutterstock.com
Selvihan Koç from the Department of Food and Nutrition at the Schleswig-Holstein Consumer Centre explains why, statistically speaking, a third of my shopping ends up in the dustbin or the organic waste bin: “We often buy far too much. One reason is that retailers are constantly tempting customers with supposedly attractive offers and are increasingly offering large containers. Then a net with 10 oranges costs the same as 5 individually purchased ones.
But if I end up throwing away 6 fruits, I’ve even paid more – and besides, I’ve wasted valuable food”. A development that has doubled since 1970.
Book suggestion: Zero Waste Kitchen by Veronika Pichl, riva Verlag, for 10 Euro
Disposable society: What else is food worth to us?
The appreciation of food has changed dramatically in recent decades: Whereas in 1950 we still had to invest 50 percent of our income in food and drink, today we spend just 10 percent on it.
These apples are far too good to throw away © Elena11 / Shutterstock.com
Milk, sausage, apples and cauliflower have degenerated into cheap products and are treated accordingly: 49 percent of our purchased fruit and vegetables end up untouched in the bin, 14 percent of all baked goods, and 11 percent of meat, fish and dairy products. Today, food is available everywhere, at any time and in abundance. And our expectation of being able to buy a fresh spelt chia bread even at 7:45 p.m. also ensures full shelves until the shop closes – with the aforementioned waste.
7 ways to cleverly use overripe fruit
How our lifestyle encourages food waste
Our lifestyle – characterized by mobility and little time – also ensures that more and more food waste is produced. According to the current consumer study Consumer’s Choice, 42 percent of all Germans no longer cook at all, but food consumption is only falling minimally. And let’s face it: Who has the next three business meals in the supermarket in mind or is deterred from a spontaneous trip to the sea just because the fridge is full to bursting?
From the field to the trash: throwing food away according to the principle of beauty
But it’s not only in private households that large quantities of food end up in the trash: “Up to 30 percent of the entire fruit and vegetable harvest doesn’t end up with the consumer at all, but is sorted out beforehand,” explains food rescuer Amelie Mertin from Munich. As soon as potatoes are too big or too small, carrots have a second leg or apples have a pressure mark, they are considered “unsaleable”. In the best case scenario, they end up at Mertin’s.
Together with 3 other founders, she runs the start-up Querfeld (www.querfeld.bio), which acquires this committee with blemishes directly from the organic farmers and sells it to caterers and canteen kitchens.
Why you should shop more often at the weekly market Unique, healthy and delicious: carrots with a “blemish” © Ralu Cohn / Shutterstock.com
“Most of it, however, is still left on the field, burned in the biogas plant or turned into animal feed. Our customers are even happy to receive large specimens – this means they have to peel less. A small flaw has no effect on quality and taste anyway,” says Mertin, who has saved several tons of perfect food from destruction in this way. But there’s still a lot to be done: from field to plate, 500,000 truckloads of food are not eaten every year in Germany alone.
Fortunately, however, there is also a growing number of initiatives to promote the responsible use of food (see below).
Food-Waste Cause: The best before date
Can be kept unopened until: This record with a shelf life expiration date (MHD ) additionally encourages the waste of food. According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL ) only thrown away because the printed date has passed. The number does not say anything about the edibility of the yoghurt or the noodles. How could it be – after all, neither of them knows that they would suddenly have to go sour or mouldy on day X.
If milk products are no longer available after the MHD still edible? The MHS of the yogurt is exceeded? So what! © goodmoments / Shutterstock.com
“The date is printed on the packaging at the discretion of the manufacturer. This is their only guarantee that the closed, properly stored food product will retain the promised consistency, colour, smell and taste as well as nutritional value at least until that date,” explains consumer protection expert Koç. In fact, the majority of products can still be consumed days, weeks, months, if not years later without hesitation. “As a general rule, the drier a food is, the longer it can be kept.
That is why sugar and fluorine-free salt have not been available for a long time. MHD more on it.
Our tip to stop throwing away food: After expiry of the MHD s you should simply carry out your own quality control by eyes, nose and mouth. Only what falls through ends up on the compost or in the trash can.
3 clever tips on how to extend the shelf life of your food
Food with a short shelf life ends up in the trash particularly quickly. There are clever tips and tricks on how to extend the shelf life:
The best tips to save a lot of money
1st way with the plastic packaging
Films are used to protect fruit and vegetables and make them more durable. However, carrots and bananas often begin to sweat and spoil more quickly when exposed to temperature fluctuations. Fruit is better stored without, while special containers with vacuum lids delay the decay of vegetables.
2. store food correctly
When it comes to correct storage, orient yourself to the country of origin of the respective foodstuff: tropical fruits do not like cold, potatoes like it cool and dark. Store apples and tomatoes separately. Their plant hormone ethylene accelerates the ripening process of their neighbours.
3. freezing instead of throwing away
Almost all vegetables and many fruits can be frozen and later processed into soups or smoothies, for example. Wash, chop, done. Some Meal Preper also pack themselves “Smoothie Bags”, meaning: Cut all ingredients for a smoothie into small pieces and freeze them. If necessary, just take them out and put them in the blender. This keeps the smoothie pleasantly cool.
What can each individual do against food waste?
When it comes to food waste, it is primarily small things that can lead to big changes: For example, the good old shopping list and a little bit of planning that protects both us and the food from waste. Before you go shopping, ask yourself: How many meals do I actually eat at home (and not out of home)?
Nutritional apps against food waste & Co. You can make delicious pancakes from brown bananas © Ai825 / Shutterstock.com
Or: Will I really manage to eat the whole perennial banana plant? Brown bananas are probably the classic among disposable foods, even though you can do so much with them in the kitchen: For example, do a quick Nicecream (healthy, vegan banana ice cream) or a delicious smoothie/ smoothie bowl. Our tip: banana pancakes. The overripe banana contains so much fructose that you don’t need another sweetener.
Meal Prep can also help to reduce food waste. “Meal Prep is basically nothing more than pre-cooking. Plan your meals for the week and pre-cook them. Then you pack everything in Tupperware containers and always have a full meal ready – whether it’s lunch to go or when you get home in the evening.
Clever pre-cooking: How Meal Prep works
Another good tip (which, by the way, also applies if you want to lose a few kilos): “Don’t go to the store hungry, otherwise you will demonstrably buy more than you need,” advises Koç. This can end up on the compost, but also on your ribs.
Buying from the farmer or at the weekly market increases the awareness of goods and frees from the commercial constraints of the food industry. Also support traders who sell products with short MHD sell. A little tip: Be as lenient with fruit and vegetables in the future as you are with your boyfriend. After all, you love him with his little quirks …
These 3 initiatives, apps and restaurants fight against food waste
1. food sharing: In the last 4 years the initiative has saved almost 7 million kilos of food. Simply register and share food leftovers with others or put the leftovers in one of the nationwide “Fair-Teiler” refrigerators. Here you can find the food sharing registration.
Two. Too good for the barrel: With this and the “Restlos genießen” campaign, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture is reacting to the scandalous handling of food. Top chefs are giving away great leftover recipes or restaurants are being listed which are giving their guests leftovers in environmentally friendly packaging. More information under www.zugutfuerdietonne.de
3. ResQ : 10 percent of all meals prepared in restaurants are thrown away. Stop it! Thanks to the food saving platform “ResQ ” these can be picked up cheaply. Check the offers in your area right away.
Conclusion: Food waste can be prevented by all of us
Everyone can do something to change the increasing waste of food: Don’t buy more than you really need and be more aware of regional and seasonal foods. And above all: be creative in cooking and use leftovers for new creations. For example, you can use the brown banana in your fruit basket to bake delicious smoothie and even brownies.