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Save your food, save the world!

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

I try to eat as much fresh food as possible, cooking as many meals at home as I can without using packaged foods, and making enough for lunches for me and my husband to take to work. I go to the farmer's market every weekend and stock up all my fruit and veg for the week. Sometimes things don't go to plan, however, and I'm too tired or lazy to cook, and then at the end of the week I go to cook my broccoli and it's mouldy (doh!), or I go to get out a cucumber and it's all squishy (eeeew). The problem is probably made worse because I'm also avoiding unnecessary plastic, so I just put all of my vegetables in the drawer together, not in separate plastic bags. So while I try to do my best to eat well and minimise waste, I'm not always successful, and unfortunately end up throwing away some food on a regular basis.

So when I saw this thing called FreshPaper a few weeks ago in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket, I was interested. It's paper that you put in with your fresh food, in your veggie drawer or a smaller cut off piece in your berry punnet, and it's supposed to keep your food fresh for longer. I was also skeptical. It's called paper, but I wasn't sure if it actually was made out of paper or if it was some synthetic material that would exist forever. I also didn't really understand how it worked, and suspected it might be made from a bunch of toxic chemicals that I might not want on or near my food. The cynic in me won out, and I put it back and forgot about it until the other day, when I listened to a recent episode of The Doctor's Farmacy with the inventor, a lady named Kavita Shukla.

As an immigrant from India, Kavita Shukla came up with the idea for FreshPaper to help people in the developing world without access to fridges keep their food from spoiling. Little did she know how much money, electricity and resources go into this problem in the developed world. Food wastage is a massive problem - the Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) of the United Nations reports that about one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, gets lost or wasted. That's approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food!

It's not only that the food itself is wasted, there's also the land, water, energy and labour that has gone into producing, storing and transporting that food. The FAO states that food loss and waste costs industrialised countries around US$680 billion dollars. Have a look at this short video on the life of a strawberry to get an idea of how much is involved.

The other aspect to food waste is that it's a significant contributor to climate change. While figures tend to vary, food waste could contribute as much as 11% of greenhouse gas emissions, and if it was a country, it would be the third greatest emitter. Closer to home, not only does throwing away food hurt our wallets, when food is thrown in the bin it ends up in landfill and breaks down anaerobically (without oxygen)  and produces methane, which is 30 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of it's ability to trap heat.

So I've now bought some FreshPaper, and have high hopes that it's going to allow me to keep my fruit and veg for longer and reduce the amount of food I waste. I'm also going to look into other ways to reduce the amount of organic material I send to landfill. I live in an apartment block, so I'm not sure I have enough space for a composter, but maybe a worm farm. I'll keep you posted with the results of the FreshPaper and how I'm going with my compost or worm farm mission!

Cover photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash.

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