It’s difficult to say what is avoidable and what is inevitable in the world of food waste.
We like to use the following definition, from the folks over at WRAP (see here).
Essentially, they argue there are 3 types of waste:
When this stuff goes into the trash, it’s a crying shame. Avoidable waste is the disposal of foodstuffs that were meant to be eaten. Think the broccoli head as opposed to the stalk, the orange slice as opposed to the rind, or the avocado meat as opposed to the pit.
This makes up a big portion of food waste. Avoidable waste is the food that some people eat, and some people don’t. Think carrot skins, potato peels, or lemon zest. Now, just because some people don’t eat it doesn’t mean its bad, it usually comes down to personal preference.
While we want to cut down on waste any way we can, sometimes it’s just not practical on an everyday level to reduce waste. This is the stuff often left behind, not edible under normal circumstances. Think pineapple skins, the outer part of melon rinds, or apple stems.
Ethylene is a colorless, sweet-smelling gas that plants use as a hormone to regulate growth and maturity. If you ever wondered why bananas turn brown and broccoli turns yellow, you’ve got ethylene to thank.
While all plants create ethylene, some make more and some are more susceptible to it. For example, bananas are the poster child of ethylene sensitivity, while carrots and oranges barely pay it notice at all.
The rule of thumb is, keep ethylene producers away from ethylene absorbers.
Important note: Most sites are going to suggest you totally remove all ethylene producers and keep them separate from ethylene sensitive produce, us included. That is the best way to keep produce fresh, but we know that’s not all that practical, its one of the reasons we even created Produce Mate, that said, as long as you keep produce well ventilated, you can still prolong their lives.
You may notice many of the tips on prolonging food waste don’t fit into how Produce Mate works. We’ve noticed too. However, these tips are the exact reason why Produce Mate exists.
Most families aren’t going to follow these tips. Its a lot of work maxing on the lifespan of produce. Keeping carrots submerged in water, wrapping lettuce in paper towels, and religiously separating ethylene producers from absorbers just isn’t worth the time investment for a lot of families.
We are not saying we can work better than all these methods combined; we can’t, no product can yet. What we can do, however, is work better than doing nothing, and that’s what most families are doing now. Our goal runs our company, not the other way around. That’s why we still want to show these tips. We want to cut down on food waste, we know different people will do so differently, so we want to provide as many options as possible.
If you think doing these tricks is the best route, we think that’s fantastic! We love that you’re willing to put so much into cutting down on what’s being wasted. If you don’t think you have time to follow all of the methods below, then Produce Mate may be the right direction to go.