The total amount of food waste is a serious problem, not only domestically but also globally. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, food waste contributes to about I trillion dollar each year, and food production worldwide needs to increase by 60% by 2050 to meet demands of the growing population. In addition, food waste heavily impacts the environment and land space. The focus of this blog is to share few hacks to help consumers reduce food waste from everyday life with organic ingredients that can be found in the convenience of their home.
(2018). Statistics of Food Waste photographs. Licensed under U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Hack #1: Rinse berries with vinegar before storing in the refrigerator
Though strawberries are rich in antioxidants, at the same time they cost more and degrades faster compared to other fresh fruits. The post harvest shelf life is so short that it can be very discouraging for consumers. In order to prevent strawberries from degrading too quickly, there is an easy trick. Begin by using vinegar and water solution, a 1:3 ratio, as a dipping wash to extend shelf life while keeping the freshness. Vinegar can help to disinfect the surface layers due to its low pH. “A study used a various concentrations of peracetic acid to delay microbiological degradation in strawberries. Peracetic acid is made up of a combination of acetic acid (vinegar) and hydrogen peroxide” (Van de Velde, Grace, Pirovani, & Lila, 2016); therefore, using vinegar from home will have similar effect and should be sufficient in disinfecting some surface bacteria.
Hack #2: Store apples away from other fruits and vegetables
Growing up my dad always stored apples with raw fruits in the same bag because he wants them to ripe faster so he can eat them quicker. Apple, apricot, and banana are some examples of climacteric fruits. “Climacteric fruits ripen very quickly at room temperature because they produce a hormone called ethylene gas. When stored together with fruits and vegetables at room temperature, ethylene gas (C2H4) helps to accelerate the ripening and softening process” (Fan et al., 2018). Unless you want to ripen your raw fruits and vegetables faster, a helpful tip in keeping your produces fresh for as long as possible is to store them separately. Be mindful next time when you’re storing your fruits and vegetables! Keeping climacteric fruits apart can help keep your fruits and vegetables fresh longer, which can also reduce food waste.
Hack #3: Put paper towels in packaged salads
How many times has it happened to you where your box of leafy green vegetables have spoiled and become soggy in the refrigerator? Well, that is a natural phenomenon because leafy greens lose water quickly into the atmosphere as they respire. The water vapor trapped inside the box collects in the form of water droplets, which also known as condensation. A simple and easy trick to prolong shelf life is to put paper towel inside packaged salads. “Studies have shown that cellulose-based films used to package vegetables effectively minimized water condensation” (Caleb, Ilte, Frohling, Geyer, & Mahajan, 2016). With that said, paper towel works in the same way as cellulose-based films because paper towels are made up of cellulose as well. Cellulose helps to absorb excess moisture and regulate humidity. Therefore, next time try putting a piece of paper towel inside the package and see how well the salad degrades!
In conclusion, the above hacks can be incorporated into our daily routines to help keep produces fresh longer. The ultimate goal, however, is to raise awareness in reducing food waste. The advantages of prolonged post harvest shelf life allow consumers more time to enjoy their fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as helping with consumer budgeting.
Caleb, O. J., Ilte, K., Frohling, A., Geyer, M., Mahajan, P. V. (2016). Integrated modified atmosphere and humidity package design for minimally processed broccoli. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 121, 87-100. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925521416301569
Fan, X., Shu C., Zhao, K., Wang, X., Cao, J., & Jiang, W. (2018). Regulation of apricot ripening and softening process during shelf life by post-storage treatments of exogenous ethylene and 1-methylcyclopropene. Scientia Horticulturae, 232, 63-70. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423817307847
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2018). Statistics of Food Waste [Photographs]. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/
Food Wastage Footprint. (n.d.). Retrieved November 6, 2018, from http://www.fao.org/nr/sustainability/food-loss-and-waste/en/
Van de Velde, F., Grace, M. H., Pirovani, M. E., & Lila, M. A. (2016). Impact of a new postharvest disinfection method based on peracetic acid fogging on the phenolic profile of strawberries. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 117, 197-205. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092552141630028X
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