Green Mamas Share Tips on How to Prevent Food Waste

Mothers and grandmothers of the EcoWaste Coalition have risen to the challenge of reducing food loss and waste by coming up with creative and ecological tips and tricks on managing household food needs to minimize, if not totally eliminate, waste.
Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje had earlier called on Filipinos “to help cut down food waste” and “be more environmentally-responsible consumers” as people across the globe commemorated last June 5 the World Environment Day (WED), which has as its theme “Think.  Eat.  Save. Reduce Your Foodprint.”
As explained by Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, WED 2013 “draws attention both to the issue and the absurdity that high volumes of perfectly edible produce are never making it from the farm to the fork.”
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally, while one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger. 
In the Philippines, daily rice wastage alone is estimated at 9 grams (3 tablespoons) per person amounting to 3.3 kilos per year as per the 2008 National Nutrition Survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
“If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost,” the FAO pointed.
“For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food,” the FAO explained.
Responding to this challenge, EcoWaste Coalition’s green mamas have come up with a list of practical actions that can be carried out at home or anywhere else where food is prepared and consumed.
Among those who shared their thoughts were mothers Lyn Ramos, Thess Belen and Francia Encinas from Buklod Tao, a dynamic people’s organization based in San Mateo, Rizal; Velvet Roxas, a breastfeeding champion from Arugaan and mother of two; Chichi Tulao,  former president of the Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines Foundation with 2 children;  Tessa Oliva from the Environmental Studies Institute with 3 children and 2 grandchildren; Sonia Mendoza, chairperson of the Mother Earth Foundation and who has several children and grandkids; and Yhet Garcia of the EcoWaste Coalition Secretariat and mother of two.
In addition to sharing their food waste prevention and reduction tips, Chichi Tulao revealed her kitchen guide for a job well done – “get ready, do, put away, clean up” – to which she adds her mantra “think, love, Zero Waste.”  “Ibigay ang puso at pagmamahal  para sumarap at di matira,” she added.  Unlike infant formula that creates lots of waste, a woman’s breastmilk is perfectly Zero Waste,” Velvet Roxas pointed out.  “Kung ang mga basura ay pwedeng i-recycle, ganoon din sa pagkain,” reminded community leaders Lyn, Thess and Francia,


1.  Check your refrigerator or cupboard before going to your favorite market stall or supermarket, look for items that should be first finished up, create a menu plan and prepare your meals based on such plan. Think about proper “mix and match” to entice kids to eat and finish their meals.


1.  Create a shopping list based on what you have planned to eat for the week, take this list to the market, stick to it and resist buying on impulse.
1.  Take your own containers when you go shopping to cut on packaging waste such as bucket, cooler and “Tupperware” for fish and other wet goods, bayong and tote bags for fruits, vegetables and other dry goods.  Refuse plastic bags and excess packaging to reduce waste to dumpsite or landfill.  Having the fish cleaned or gutted at the point of purchase reduces kitchen waste.
2.  Choose fresh, nutritious and locally-produced fruits and vegetables over processed food items.  Picking those that are in season is both a budget-friendly and healthy option.  Go for  organic food, which are healthier and pesticide-free.
3.  Buy only what you need and in amounts that you will consume to avoid spoilage, as well as storage problem. Go for loose fruits and vegetables over prepackaged ones that often come with plastic cling wrap plus polystyrene packet, so you avoid buying extra quantities and garbage.
1.  Avoid preparing too much of easily spoiled food like spaghetti, pancit, and coconut-based dishes, which should be consumed after each meal serving, or the excess stored in the freezer to prevent spoilage.
2. Strive for balanced and healthy diet for the entire family, avoiding foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
3. Go for real food, not junk food, which are more expensive, wasteful and are associated with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart ailments, among other preventable illnesses.
4.  Use proper utensils for better cooking.  For example, use a ladle for round frying pan, and a slotted turner for flat one.
1. Serve smaller portions, especially for kids, and only give more once they have cleared their plates.
2. Use serving cutlery to keep excess food clean that can be saved for the next meal.
3.  Share excess food to friends, neighbors, co-workers and street dwellers before it spoils.
4.  Don’t just simply throw wilting fruits and vegetables.   Turn soft fruits into juices or smoothies, and wilted veggies into soup.
1.  Keep leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer and serve for next meals or snacks.  Be creative and utilize leftovers to create healthy and tasty meals.  Leftover pork adobo can be turned into adobo flakes and used as sandwich fillings or as pizza toppings.  Leftover rice can be turned into tasty fried rice. 
1.  Keep a healthy refrigerator by setting the temperature right to prolong freshness and shelf-life of stored items, which should be placed in proper containers and duly labeled.
2.  Place older items in your cupboard and refrigerator to the front and put the newer ones towards the back.
3.  Store unused cereals, grains, pasta and other dry ingredients in air-tight containers.
4.  Check use-by dates to ensure you will consume the item before it goes out of date.
1.  Turn fruit and vegetable peelings and other biodegradable discards into compost, the garden food, to help nourish depleted soils.  Make a compost pit in your backyard or make your own compost container using bins, pots, tires and other containers.