Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Waste Not: Offset High Food Prices by Throwing out Less, Say Experts

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Waste Not: Offset High Food Prices by Throwing out Less, Say Experts

Article excerpt

Offset high food prices by reducing waste: experts

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TORONTO - With food prices expected to continue to rise through 2016, experts say there's one way people can save money: waste less.

"We are throwing out huge amounts of food," says Michael von Massow, a professor at the University of Guelph.

"We don't like to think about it, we don't like to admit it, but if we pay attention and think about it we can reduce that, which means we'd have to buy less and we wouldn't be feeling these price increases as much."

The university's Food Institute predicted in a December report that Canadians can expect to spend an extra $345 on groceries this year, including up to 4.5 per cent more for fruits and vegetables.

When von Massow lectures on strategies to reduce food waste, he tells groups: "Many of us bring five bins or five bags of groceries home on a Saturday. We might as well leave one of them at the curb because we're going to carry it back there anyway."

In a 2013 audit, researchers at the university found the average household in Guelph, Ont., was throwing out more than four kilograms of food a week and more than half of that was fresh fruits and vegetables. (About a third of the total was unavoidable, such as banana peels, cores and coffee grounds.)

"It's interesting because while diversion from landfill is a great thing, we believe that people let themselves off the hook if it's diverted to an organics program, that people may actually waste more food because they don't think they're wasting it -- they're composting it; they're doing something environmentally sound," says von Massow.

"They're not thinking about the cost of what they're throwing out.... So we think in some cases food waste actually goes up when you have a really good organics program like we do in Guelph and they do in Toronto and York Region."

Home economist and cookbook author Mairlyn Smith says her best tip to save money and reduce waste is to plan weekly menus, with leftovers in mind, and write a grocery list of the necessary ingredients. Then check to see what you have on hand.

That point was driven home to her a few years ago when, on a hummus kick, she got back from the store with a bottle of tahini only to discover she already had three in her pantry. …

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