raw food diet

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Fruit and Veg Wastage

CoachMel Healthy Eating 4 Comments

What’s your normal routine when you get home from grocery shopping?

Is it a mad dash to chuck everything away as quickly as possible? Yes – this is me too!

Researchers at the University of Arizona spent a year tracking the food habits of families. The results reported in 2002, were pretty shocking.

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They found that families tossed out an average of 470 pounds of food per year, that was an annual cost of $600.

Every day, they discarded more than half a pound of fruits and veggies.

Do you find yourself discarding lots of fruits and vegetables each week?

If your produce rots after just a few days, you may be storing incompatible fruits and vegetables together.

Tips for prolonging fruits and vegetables

#1 The crisper drawer

The crisper is much more humid than the rest of the fridge, therefore foods that need a humid atmosphere should be placed here, for example lettuce, spinach, and carrots.

#2 Refrigerator shelves

The refrigerator shelf is the best place for any fruits or vegetables that need air circulation. Examples include, unhusked corn, most berries, cucumbers, or mushrooms.

#3 Gas sensitive produce

Some fruits emit ethylene gas, which speeds ripening and decay of ethylene sensitive produce.

Examples of gas sensitive produce:

  • Bananas, ripe
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce, and other leafy greens
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Watermelon

#4 Produce to be refrigerated

  • Apples (more than 7 days)*
  • Apricots*
  • Berries – blackberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Cut fruits
  • Figs*
  • Grapes
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Lima beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Cut vegetables
  • Green onions
  • Herbs (not basil)
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Summer squashes
  • Sweet corn

(* indicates gas releaser, store away from ethylene sensitive produce)

#5 Ripen on counter, then refrigerate

Some fruits and vegetables are cold-sensitive, losing their flavour and moisture at low temperatures. Examples include:

  • Avocados*
  • Bananas*
  • Kiwifruit*
  • Nectarines*
  • Peaches*
  • Pears*
  • Plums*
  • Tomatoes*

They should be stored on the kitchen counter, rather than in the fridge, until they’re fully ripe. After ripening they can be refrigerated to prolong their life.

(* these are gas releaser’s, and should be kept away from ethlyne sensitive produce.)

#6 Store at room temperature

  • Apples (fewer than 7 days)*
  • Bananas
  • Basil (in water)
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Mandarins
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranates
  • Pumpkins
  • Tomatoes*
  • Watermelons
  • Winter squashes

These are best kept on the coolest part of your counter.

#7 Store in a dark pantry

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potato
  • Winter squash

These should be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area in the pantry, where they can last up to a month, or more.

#8 Correct storage in the fridge

Fruits and vegetables should not be stored in airtight bags in the fridge.

They must be able to breathe – suffocating them will speed up the decay process.

  • Most fruits and vegetables keep well in perforated plastic bags.
  • Before storing berries, remove any spoiled fruits, then place unwashed in plastic bags or plastic containers.
  • Mushrooms and okra should be stored in paper bags.

#9 Grocery shopping

At the supermarket shop for nonperishables first, to prevent fruits and vegetables getting warm, and rapidly respiring.

Try to get your fresh produce home and into the fridge as soon as possible, or store temporarily in a cooler bag.

#10 Consume fastest spoilers first

Check out Spoiled Rotten for a handy guide to eating the most perishable items first.

Also, keep produce whole, as this will help to prolong its lifespan.

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Comments 4

  1. Meg

    #11 Eat more

    Most people only get 2-3 servings a day, far below the recommended daily intake.

    #12 Don’t shop hungry

    You’ll buy more than you need. (Or more importantly, more that you can finish off before it goes bad…)

  2. Rebecca

    Well, honestly, I had NO IDEA about much of what you put in your post. I’ve forwarded the link to the significant women in my world. Thanks for the info!

  3. Tom

    I know we have a problem with wasting produce. Like Rebecca said, I was unaware of a lot that you posted. Lots of thing you suggested to refrigerate after a certain time, we never do. Thanks for the advice, hopefully we can implement some of these suggestions at our house.

  4. Melanie

    Hi Meg,

    You’re right, if we just ate what we purchased in the first place. It seems the intentions are often good at the supermarket, but for some they don’t extend any further! Thanks for commenting.

    Rebecca & Tom,

    To be honest, I wanted to find out about this topic myself, that’s why I wrote the post, so I have also learned quite a bit. 🙂

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