In the current pandemic, stockpiling goods became a worldwide issue, and – in turn – many perishables have been wasted
In a bid to help increase awareness of the effects of food wastage, such as increased greenhouse gases, Qatar Green Building Council has hosted an interactive webinar discussing easy tips that can be incorporated into daily lifestyles.
Tricks to shopping responsibly include meal planning, writing shopping lists, and checking pantries and fridges before food shopping to avoid doubling up on items. And to extend the life of food, make sure that the fridge is set to 4 degrees Celsius.
“With the current situation, we’ve all been recommended that we should wash our fruits and vegetables, so it’s really important that we do that,” said Nodoka Nakamichi, Co-Founder/Marketing and PR Manager, QUBE.
“Just do it with some vinegar. But make sure that everything is extra dry before putting in the fridge, because if it’s still moist, it will wilt and go off sooner.”
Ms. Nakamichi was joined by Kim Wyatt, TV Presenter and Food Writer & Co-Director; and Aisha AlMaadeed, Founder, Greener Future at the webinar. The discussion was led by Ruba Hinnawi, Technical Coordinator, Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) – a member of Qatar Foundation.
Ms. Nakamichi also said that the freezer can be our best friend. “If you can see that things are going to go off, put it in your freezer. I think people will be surprised with the amount of things you can actually freeze,” she said, going on to list bananas, tomatoes, and herbs in olive oil as items that can be frozen for later consumption.
Food wastage accounts for around 7-10 per cent of global greenhouse gases, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. And, in Qatar alone, nearly 60 percent of the total domestic waste is organic, and comes from within the home.
Compounding this situation, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic – and nations began locking down – stockpiling goods became a worldwide issue, and – in turn – many perishables were wasted.
Ms. Wyatt said, “I think people underutilize their freezer – it’s a great way of reducing food wastage, particularly if food is starting to go bad.
“And saving money, too. The other plus on reducing food wastage and storing it well is that you will save money, reducing your food bill and reducing the amount of times you need to go to the supermarket.”
Another key topic within the discussion was Ramadan, which started last week, and how, because of COVID-19, the world is experiencing a new side of the Holy Month, including smaller tables and no gatherings.
Ms. Wyatt said, “Statistically, Ramadan is one of the worst times of the year for excess food wastage, and I think that’s certainly a cultural part of society, because food is love. And like any celebration, we want to share with our guests; we want to show our appreciation and our love. And it’s prevalent throughout different cultures around the world, be it birthdays, weddings, or other occasions.”
Ms. AlMaadeed suggested solutions such as portion control and asking family members what they would like for Iftar ahead of preparing meals.
The panelists also addressed how to choose produce at supermarkets, with Ms. Nakamichi highlighting the importance of seasonal buying. “Things that are in season have the least carbon footprint because there is less storage.
“Buy local produce. Qatar is doing a great job at growing vegetables locally – they’re expanding every week, growing so many different varieties. I think the most important thing we can do is support the local market.”
As well as calling for new government policies and legislation – citing South Korea, which has reduced the nation’s food wastage immensely – the panelists agreed that it’s about individuals taking small, sustainable steps.
“It just takes one person to have an interest and make changes in their own lives,” Ms. Nakamichi said. “You might inspire someone else. The biggest tip I can give, is just get involved. Speak to people about it. Get your kids involved.”