Last week, as part of the ongoing World Environment Day campaign on sustainability in our daily lives, GAR staff in Singapore were offered a chance to attend a cooking demonstration by local chef Micah Lim. But there was a twist. Chef Micah did not come to show us how to cook something fabulous using exotic ingredients, instead, he demonstrated how we can all reduce food waste through simple, creative techniques at home.
Why food waste is a problem
Food wastage is a big global problem. In Singapore, more than 788,000 tonnes of food go to waste every year. That’s around 140 kg of food per person in Singapore. It’s a sobering thought. And this is not just because we know there are many people facing malnourishment and hunger in the world. Food waste also has a cost in terms of environmental impact – for example, if we were to cut food waste by just 15 percent in Singapore the impact on CO2 emissions would be the same as taking 86,000 cars off the road.
What can we do to reduce food waste?
Chef Micah showed us that we can all reduce food waste easily at home by taking some simple steps:
1. Do not overbuy
How many of us have been tempted to buy huge packs of food simply because there was a special offer or it was more economical? We won’t really have saved money if we are not able to finish the food and end up throwing it away. Chef Micah recommended thinking about how much food would be eaten by the household in a week and only buy a reasonable amount. He also talked about how to portion up meat and seafood so that they can be kept in a freezer and used as and when required.
Chef Micah demonstrating what to do with a cabbage
2. Prolong the shelf life of vegetables through proper treatment
Many of us will throw out wilted or discoloured vegetables. Chef Micah recommended using moist kitchen towels to prevent wilting and discolouration of fresh produce. Another traditional way of getting the most out of vegetables is to pickle them. You can do this either through fermentation or by using vinegar and sugar. Kimchi is an example of pickled cabbage which Singaporeans are familiar with given the growing popularity of Korean culture. Having made kimchi at home myself, I can tell you it’s really quite easy. You don’t have to stop at cabbage, all sorts of vegetables can be pickled and as a bonus, fermentation actually increases their nutritional value by providing us with beneficial probiotics.
3. Be creative and experiment
Chef Micah also demonstrated that many parts of vegetables such as the cores of cabbages and celery hearts are actually highly nutritious and full of flavour. Yet most people throw these away. To prove his point, the chef whipped up a couple of salads using vegetable parts which people commonly throw away. Many in the audience were surprised at how good they tasted.
Tasting different parts of vegetables
Make food wastage a thing of the past
In Singapore, most of us have been fortunate enough never to have known real hunger. But as the global population continues to grow, feeding everyone will put increasing pressure on our natural resources such as arable land and water. We all need to start being more mindful and to take responsibility to end food waste beginning with simple steps at home.