|By Ilse Dumont, Contributing Writer 👩🏼🍳🍪🥛🍽 Store Food Sustainably|
Storing food correctly is essential for limiting food waste. Common habits consist of using plastic wrap or single-use plastic bags. Think though, what effect does plastic food storage do to our health and the environment? How can we preserve our food in an eco-responsible way? Here, we take a look at zero-waste alternatives and tips to preserve food longer without endangering your body or the planet.
Plastic is frequently used in the food industry. While it’s suitable for food preservation, the negative impact on the environment and our health has been proven by numerous studies.
Single-use plastic objects such as freezer bags or cling film generate huge amounts of waste. Also, chemical components added during the manufacturing process can leach from the plastic into the food and beverages we consume. It’s important to note, heating food in microwaves intensifies leached chemicals.
Aluminum foil has also been singled out by several studies for depositing particles on covered or wrapped food. Again, like plastic, intensified when heated. Our bodies have no way to eliminate aluminum. Even worse, when it’s ingested in large quantities, it’s toxic. Knowing this, it’s better to limit foil use when cooking.
Good food preservation alternatives are glass containers, glass jars, ice cube trays, beeswax wrappers and cloth.
Reducing Food Waste
Reducing the amount of food waste can be difficult for many people. The following habits will help you get there. First things first, create a shopping list. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables and only what you need! This challenging choice reduces the chance of food items expiring on the shelf or in the refrigerator.
Check expiration dates. Organizing your pantry by the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method for fresh produce and the FEFO (first expired, first-out) for prepacked and canned food. Portion recipes and make just enough for each day. Recycle leftovers; refrigerate for later consumption or choose to pack and freeze.
Helpful cooking tip: 6 tips to cook more eco friendly
Organizing your fridge
The refrigerator is arguably the most used appliance of our time. With this in mind, make an eco-friendly choice with minimum environmental impact. Organization is essential for saving energy. Some modern refrigerators offer zero-degree zones where fruits and vegetables are stored gently.
Space shelves thoughtfully. Leaving space between stored food is essential for optimal longevity. Properly stored foods spoil less often.
Keep items well protected in the refrigerator by storing food in closed or wrapped containers. This prevents dried-out food, and above all, cross-contamination or change in flavor and taste.
Tips To Keep Fruit And Vegetables Longer
- Rinse vegetables with sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, before storing in the fridge, wrap in a paper towel or in a sealed container or paper bag.
- Some fruits produce a natural gas called ethylene, which accelerates the ripening of other products. Apples, bananas, kiwis and mangos are just a few, so it’s recommended to keep them separate from other foods.
- Treat herbs like flowers. Place them in the fridge within a glass of water like a beautiful bouquet. They stay fresh much longer. Keep stem tips clipped while refreshing water for longer-lasting herbs.
- Don’t wash grapes or mushrooms until ready for use. Store in a cool, dry place. Most likely the fridge.
- Certain foods shouldn’t be stored in the fridge; onions, garlic and shallots. Unripe tomatoes ripen best in a dark place at room temperature. Potatoes have a long shelf life, especially when kept in a dark, dry place.
Sustainable food storage is essential for environmental preservation and waste reduction. Store your goods correctly, and get the most from your groceries. Consider the materials covered here, follow well-practiced protocol, reduce waste and save the environment.
Ilse Dumont is a contributing writer at Good to Know Magazine who also publishes the blog, Culinary Ambition. She and her husband, Yannick, met on a an island in the Gulf of Thailand. After 20 years of traveling the globe, using their collective knowledge, they share recipes from all over the world. And, culinary tips inside and outside the kitchen.