Top 10 ways to prevent household food waste whilst also improving gut health!
Continuing with our mini-series on sustainability, Juleyka has written an article on the impact of food waste on your health and the environment.
Juleyka is a nutritionist from Manchester; she is passionate about food sustainability in relation to health and nutrition. She has partnered with dissertations for good contributing to research around the U.N Sustainable Development Goals and food sustainability practices, volunteered for Dimension's charity; creating meal plans for people with complex needs. More recently, she has also joined with YouGen as a content writer on the link between sustainability and health.
Food waste - UK and globally
Research has shown the average UK family wastes 8 meals per week. Every part of the food which is wasted has an environmental impact which includes transport costs, fuel, water, and energy -all energy intensive process to dispose of the food. Potential health benefits can also be lost via the lack of knowledge around pickling /fermentation methods and creative ideas to save those scraps which could be causing you to lose out on extra fibre and antioxidants from’’ scraps’’.
Meanwhile governments and large corporations have a significant part to play in the plight against food waste, consumers also have part to play. According to wrap.org ‘edible’ element of household food waste is responsible for 14 million tonnes of CO2 alone -this equates to as much greenhouse gas produced as flying from London to Perth, more than 4.5 million times.
The impact of consumers on household food waste statistics
It is evident that household food waste significantly contributes to environmental health. At the same time, it also highlights we as consumers have the potential to make a significant difference within our own homes. If we can improve our own health whilst doing so, it sure is a win-win situation.
See below for the top 10 methods you can combat foo waste, whilst benefiting your gut health:
Top 10 methods we can use in the kitchen to reduce our food waste whilst benefit gut health
1. Preservation methods/: gut health benefits, good source of probiotics
- Creating your own jam, yogurt or pickles
- The process of fermenting/pickling vegetables partially digests the pickle which in turn unlocks more nutrients for your body to absorb of positive mood boosting and immune system functioning benefits.
- Benefits: Research has shown that traditional mango pickles for example contain a good source of probiotic, bacillus species, this specific strain is known for its immune supporting properties as well as increasing gut diversity.
2. Freezing: beneficial retains more nutrients
- Freeze your berries and veg and blend into smoothie, full of vitamins and minerals. An easy way of getting your nutrients in, especially if you have a busy schedule.
- Create your own home-made yoghurt and use the home-made jam as fruit compote and add onto homemade yoghurt using the Probio7 Life Yogurt Making Kit.
- Benefits: Berries contain antioxidants like resveratrol, ellagic acid and anthocyanins; these combat the effect of oxidative stress, which is one of the hallmark underlying mechanisms behind many diseases.
3. Eat the skin-its full of nutrition!
- The skins of fruits and veggies are often removed and thrown away. Let’s take apple skins, for example, which contain a large amount of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- It is also economical and reduces your food waste impact. The outer layers of potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mangoes, kiwis, and eggplants are alternative sources of edible fibre and provide a good source of prebiotics for the good bacteria in your gut.
- Benefits: A group of compounds present in apple peels called ‘’triterpenoids’’ act as potent antioxidants in the body. The fibre ‘pectin’ is also a great prebiotic and sometimes can even be found in probiotic supplements as ‘food’ for the probiotics. These have many energy and immune boosting properties.
4. Blend it all up into a smoothie or soup:
- Blending up a nutrient-packed smoothie can be a delicious way to reduce food waste.
- The stems, leaves, ends and peels of fresh produce may not be as appetising in their whole form. However, adding them to a smoothie and mixing with more appetising whole fruits is a great way to reap their many benefits.
- Benefit: The stems of collard greens and kale and chard are packed with fibre and nutrients, making them a great addition to smoothies but also aid to optimal gut health and helping stabilise blood glucose levels.
5. Make your own compost
- Creating you own compost from fruit and vegetable scraps- see here on how to make your own compost from scratch.
- Other items that would otherwise be discarded can also be thrown into a compost mix, including vegetable peels, wilted herb, overripe bananas and chopped broccoli stalks and be added to a compost mix.
- Benefits: further enrich the soil and create a fertile environment for any fresh produce you want to grow. Adds nutrients to the soil. Introduces a plethora of valuable microorganisms to the soil just as bacteria, protozoa and fungi which decompose the organic material, aerate the soil, and keep away pests.
Share and donate
- Sign up to collection schemes to give away your leftovers to those in need. From fresh items to long life, you can donate regularly or occasionally. Apps like olio/too good to go and local food banks are great places where you can donate your food.
Embrace ‘’ugly’’ food and try Morrisons wonky range
- Nutritionally, there is nothing wrong with blemished or wonky fruit and vegetables. You can simply chop the parts that you don’t want to use and add the rest to soups and smoothies or any recipe of your liking. Visit your local Morrisons to have a look at their wonky range.
Get creative and save your leftovers!
- Instead of throwing away leftovers, why not pack them away into freezer for a quick microwave meal? You can enjoy them for lunch the following day or create completely new dishes from them by adding some extra veg and grains.
Organize your fridge for success.
- Store meat and fish on the bottom shelf where it’s coldest.
- Put veggies in the high-humidity drawer, and fruits in the low humidity drawer. There are great fruit and vegetable storage tips at www.savethefood.com.
- Store leftovers on the upper shelf and label them with dates.
- Don’t put milk or eggs in the door where it is the warmest.
The importance of raising awareness and sharing the message
Although the food waste figures for the UK are still high, some improvements have been made. Britain was the first country to get more than halfway toward meeting the SDG Target 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030. Between 2007 and 2018, the UK reduced its national levels by 27%.
The commitment of supermarkets and food industry has played a part in this. While consumer education programs, including Love Food, Hate Waste, have also played a role. This shows campaigns and awareness work. This gives us more reason to spread and share ideas around reducing food waste. Implementing small changes can help you work towards reducing home food waste through what you shop and how you consume it. Behaviour change can start at a household level and spread to neighbourhoods, communities, towns, and cities. Instead of waiting for policies to change, we the consumers can do our own bit in fighting the plight against food waste and climate change.
1. How to make homemade compost from your food waste | Oddbox
3. Food Waste Action Week | Love Food Hate Waste
4. Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease - PMC (nih.gov)
5. Food Waste Action Week | Love Food Hate Waste
6. WASTING FOOD FEEDS CLIMATE CHANGE: Food Waste Action Week launches to help tackle climate emergency | WRAP
7. Red Raspberries and Their Bioactive Polyphenols: Cardiometabolic and Neuronal Health Links - PubMed (nih.gov)
8. 5 Benefits of Composting for your Urban Garden – Green Philly (thegreencities.com)