June 19, 2017
Did you know that Malaysians waste 15,000 tonnes of food daily? Out of that amount, 3,000 tonnes is said to be food that is still fit for consumption. To put it into perspective, 15,000 tonnes of food can feed 11 million people with three meals a day.
Wonder how food wastage impacts us? When food wastage goes to landfill, it will decompose and disintegrate. This will then emit greenhouse gases like methane, which has severe impacts on climate change and also global warming. It’s already hot enough in Malaysia, let’s do our part and make sure we don’t damage our country.
Indeed, we are a nation that loves food. We often even greet each other with “dah makan?” (Have you eaten?). The food that goes to waste will not only affect our environment, but it will also affect us financially. If you are not yet aware, the highest expense of Malaysian households is on food, regardless of their income.
The number one source of food waste is domestic waste from Malaysian households as reported by Channel News Asia. The second contributor to food wastage is from the pasar malam (night markets) and Ramadan bazaars. Third is waste from the food courts, and then it is from the other food and beverage sectors. Follow these tips below so we can all do our part to reduce wasting our hard-earned money and perfectly edible food.
You read that right. When dining out, go easy when you first place your order. You may have the urge to try almost everything on the menu. I used to be guilty of doing that, and often I cannot finish the mountain of food I’ve ordered. A light bulb moment occurred to me when dining out with my family. I wanted to order a few types of appetizers, a main meal and I was already looking at desserts. My mom then said, “Why don’t we reduce the appetizers, and after having the main meal, if you still have room for more, we can order a second round.” It’s a useful tip that I now use when eating out. It helps to reduce food wastage from over ordering, and you can also save money by practising this method.
Expiration dates on food products don’t always have to do with food safety, and whether or not it can still be eaten. Usually, it is the manufacturer’s suggestion of the best quality for the food. If stored properly, most foods can stay fresh several days, past the use-by date. If the food looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be fine. If any of these elements are off, then it’s better for you to toss it out. So do use the expiration date as a guide, and also make use of your sense of smell, sight and taste to gauge the food condition.
The word FIFO stands for First In, First Out. When you are unpacking groceries, make sure to move older food products to the front or top of the fridge, freezer and pantry. Then put new food products which you have just bought at the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.
This is especially relevant for fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, we tend to throw out an entire fruit because of its bruises or over-riped bits that we think look like it has gone bad. Firstly, those bruised or wilted vegetables can still be eaten. What you can do is trim and cut out those bruised or wilted bits, and you can then still eat it without feeling grossed out.
Also, an overly ripe fruit, tomato or onion, for example, would also be ideal to be used in pasta sauces, soups and even to make homemade jam. In the event that you were unlucky and got a batch of sour oranges or other fruits, turn it into a juice or smoothie, then add some sugar or honey to it instead of throwing it out.
Finally, if you really don’t want to force yourself to eat that wilted vegetable, you can still do something useful with it instead of just tossing it out. Food scraps too don’t need to be thrown out. You can start a compost pile in the backyard, or if you lack space, even under the sink. You can then convert food waste into a useful resource by turning it into nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Let’s say you bought a bunch of food on a whim, and then realise you won’t be able to consume it before it goes bad. This can be relevant for fresh food and also canned and packed food. What you can do is to donate the food to the needy. The Lost Food Project (TLFP) is a not-for-profit NGO established by PINK (Parents International Welfare Association of Kuala Lumpur). They collect surplus food from supermarkets and manufacturers in the country and distributes them to those who really need it.
In conjunction with Ramadan, TLFP has been running a #DonateYourLunch fundraising campaign, aimed at bringing awareness on food wastage and encouraging Malaysians to donate their lunch money. The NGO is looking to raise RM40,000 to hire a second truck driver in order to scale their collection and deliveries so that they can impact more communities.
We may not be able to completely eliminate food wastage, but by adopting some of these methods into your lifestyle, you can reduce the food you waste and save money! Enjoy more savings on food with the best credit card for groceries.