The Fight Against Food Waste Requires a New Mindset

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©. Abeego – Loaf of bread stored in beeswax wrap to maintain freshness and breathability

Toni Desrosiers, founder of Abeego beeswax wraps, wants people to start thinking about the natural life cycle of food.

"Every piece of food is on a journey from living to not alive. Often we're throwing it out prematurely because we don't know how to use it in a later phase of its life." These words from Toni Desrosiers, original creator of the beeswax wrap and founder of a company called Abeego that now sells them, were part of a conversation we had recently about household food waste and how to reduce it.

Desrosiers explained that people are generally not taught to see food as being on a spectrum of freshness, nor are they informed about the different ways in which you can use foods at various stages of deterioration. It's not as black and white as we may think, but more about finding the ideal use for an ingredient based on its age.

Take bread, for example. Her advice is to forget pre-sliced loaves. "When you have a nice crusty loaf of bread, the crust is protecting the moisture inside. Get a great bread knife and learn to slice." Keep the bread in a breathable material to prevent mold growth – she keeps it in a paper bag, wrapped with Abeego, and it lasts 7-10 days – then use it according to freshness. Start with sandwiches, move to toast after it's dried out a bit, then make bread crumbs or croutons. There should never be a reason to throw it out.

As the trend toward reducing single-use plastics at home continues, Desrosiers worries it could lead to more food waste – because when we stop wrapping food, it deteriorates more quickly. According to experiments conducted by Abeego, keeping food 'naked' in the fridge causes it to lose 30 percent of its natural moisture within three days. When wrapped in Abeego beeswax wraps, it loses less than 1 percent in the same time period. Plastic wrap eventually results in slimy, wet, rotten food because it is not breathable and does not allow food to go through a natural life cycle.

wilted vegetables

© Abeego – A comparison of food that has been wrapped in Abeego for the same amount of time as food left 'naked'. The cilantro was photographed after 4 days and the Swiss chard after 3 days.

A backyard compost bin should not be viewed as a solution to uneaten food. It's a Band-Aid fix that too often fails to acknowledge all the resources that have gone to waste in the process. As Desrosiers put it, "Under that compost pile is wasted shipping, irrigation, employment costs, warehouse storage, packaging, waste management and even bee pollination."

The best thing we can do is understand the life cycle of food and the fact that it's constantly changing. Do your best to prolong it with proper storage and don't be afraid to use food that may not be picture-perfect.