By Sol Vanzi
Resolutions this year tend to be centered on being more responsible by saving food, resources, and planet Earth.
At the top of the to-do list are the reduction of food waste and elimination of single-use plastics. This includes sachets, shopping bags, refrigerator and freezer containers, water bottles, and disposable plates or utensils. This is easy to say, but how?
It will mean a few adjustments for all of us. Start by carrying your own flask or mug, spoon, fork, and chopsticks. Some food outlets offer discounts, cash rebates, and goodies like free doughnuts to customers who bring their own dinnerware. Stores and supermarkets encourage shoppers to bring eco-bags by charging for the use of in-house plastic bags.
It is cheaper to buy commodities like soy sauce, catsup, or toothpaste in bottles or containers instead of sachets. I purchase coffee, sugar, and creamer separately and make my own 3-in-1 coffee mix. This costs me less and it’s more personalized.
Avoid using disposable gas cans
Mushrooming all over are cook-it-yourself hotpots—Korean and other Asian restaurants where diners grill or boil their own meals on table top stoves. These restaurants are very popular because families and groups of friends bond while interacting over the cooking pot or grill.
Ecologists point out that some of these eateries use disposable gas canisters, which add to solid waste and could explode in dumpsites because they are usually just thrown away with the rest of the trash.
Diners are advised to patronize places that use piped-in gas, refillable liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanks, or charcoal.
Chest freezer is a wise investment
Not many realize how convenient, practical, and cost-effective a chest freezer could be even in ordinary households. Many are scared off by the cost of purchasing a unit and the misconception that freezers are heavy energy guzzlers.
Small freezers could be purchased for a few hundred pesos a month on installment, or less than ₱30 per day. Recent models are energy-efficient and cost very little to operate. A freezer allows busy mothers to cook double recipes and freeze half for another meal. Leftovers, properly labeled, are also saved from spoilage and can be recycled safely.
A smart homemaker can also take advantage of food bargains as long as food is stored properly and labeled accurately in the freezer.
Give rejected produce a chance
Perfectly shaped, unblemished vegetables and fruits are treasured by chefs, store owners, and ordinary folks, who are willing to pay premium prices for them. The rest of the harvest are classified as rejects and are either sold for animal feed or dumped in landfills.
While millions go hungry around the world, mountains of perfectly edible and nutritious food are thrown away. These include unsymmetrical carrots, ripe tomatoes, bent cucumbers, undersized melons, oversized zucchinis, and off-colored cauliflowers or broccoli.
Celebrity chef and TV show host Jamie Oliver leads a campaign to raise public awareness of this issue. He shows by example that ugly produce taste and look exactly like grade A fruits and vegetables on dining tables and dinner plates once peeled, sliced, and cooked.
Over the years, my household has saved a considerable sum by simply buying at 50 percent off produce from the rejects bin. Most vegetables freeze well for later use in stews, soups, stir-fries, and casseroles.