In recent years, we’ve all become a lot more aware of the need to reduce our reliance on plastic. Here at Love Food Hate Waste, we’re especially interested in ways we can cut down on plastic as well as stopping precious food from ending up in the bin! WRAP, the organisation that runs Love Food Hate Waste, published a report highlighting the actions retailers can take to help tackle food and plastic waste in one fell swoop.
But while retailers are playing their part, we can all do our bit at home, too!
A great starting point is to buy loose fruit and veg where you can, rather than packaged. Here’s more on why it helps, and some tips for making the most of what you buy.
Buy only what you need
When you buy loose fruit and veg instead of a bag containing a predetermined quantity, it’s much easier to make sure you’re only buying what you’re definitely going to use. Not using up food in time is one of the reasons edible food is thrown away in the UK, and buying only what you need means you’re more likely to use it before it goes off.
Bags of fresh produce are usually sold by weight, and that doesn’t necessarily translate to a quantity that’s right for the size of your household. That means you can often end up paying for more than you need and throwing uneaten produce in the bin. Indeed, WRAP research found that “For apples, potatoes and bananas, enabling people to buy the right amount for their needs was the most important factor in saving household food waste.” So, not only does buying loose ensure that less food goes to waste, but it also saves you money!
Make your own mind up about Best Before dates
There’s no denying that date labels on food can be confusing, but Best Before dates are easy to get your head around. They’re all about quality – they’re simply telling you that the product will be at its best before the date given, but it’ll still be safe to eat after this date. In many cases, it’ll still be good to eat a long time after! In fact, WRAP research advised retailers that “Removing date labels from apples, potatoes, bananas, cucumbers and broccoli alone could save 50,000 tonnes of food wasted in the home, every year.” No need to go out and buy more fresh produce just because a best before date has been and gone!
Store it in the right place
Of course, you can also make sure the loose fruit and veg you buy stays nice and fresh for as long as possible by storing it in the right place. For most fresh fruit and vegetables, that means keeping it in the fridge at a temperature set to below 5 degrees Celsius. Yep, that includes the apples and oranges in your fruit bowl! They’ll last longer if you keep them in the fridge – WRAP research found that “Loose apples last longer when refrigerated (4°C), almost 70 days longer compared to ambient conditions” – and you can take them out and warm them up to room temperature when you’re ready to eat them.
There are exceptions to this, however – notably bananas, onions, pineapple (whole and uncut) and potatoes, should all be kept in a cool, dry place like a cupboard to keep them fresher for longer. You can get lots more food storage tips in our A-Z guide.
So, when it comes to stocking up on delicious fresh fruit and veggies, buying loose is a no-brainer. And if you do end up with anything that needs using up, our recipe bank has you covered!