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Les Marchés Publics de Montréal
January 12, 2023

Resolutions to reduce food waste : 3 motivating challenges

All news Resolutions to reduce food waste : 3 motivating challenges

New Year’s resolutions are always filled with good intentions … unfortunately we tend to give them up rather quickly. The problem is that we often fall into performance management mode, forgetting to have fun altogether. I’ve heard the saying “A goal without a plan is just a wish…” Personally, I prefer to say, “Adopting a new lifestyle without some fun component is impossible!”

Pleasure allows to project ourselves into the future, without falling into the performance trap. One day at a time. That’s how one attains realistic results … results that look like us.

According to Project Drawdow’s findings, reducing food waste is THE most impactful solution to climate change. The good news is that you can do this by adopting small positive habits on a daily basis! Here are 3 motivating challenges that I suggest you adopt at your own pace throughout the year.

1) Fridge Dump Challenge

The idea is to go through the food you’ve accumulated over the past few months and cook it first. Of course, you’ll have to visit the grocery store to get some fresh ingredients, but you’ll only buy the essentials (lettuce, cucumbers, bananas, etc.). For the rest, you’ll aim at creating your menus according to the food available in your fridge, pantry and freezer. This challenge is a good starting point to develop new creative reflexes in the kitchen, and above all, to make considerable savings! I bet your culinary inventions will be a hit with your family!

Here’s a quick checklist to help you have fun with this challenge:

  • It’s not about deprivation, but rather about creativity;
  • To avoid getting discouraged from the start, make an inventory of your surplus and set a number of days to complete this challenge;
  • Adapt your everyday recipes;
  • Anticipate the multiple lives of surplus food (leftover rice can easily become a veggie burger).

2) Encourage the Markets’ Anti-Waste Initiatives

A few years ago, I signed up for a Family Farmers Network project which involves adopting a local market gardener and support him or her by buying a prepaid basket of fruits and vegetables. When I go pick up my basket at Jean-Talon Market, I also go through the aisles to complete my shopping list with more products from local growers. 

I’ve discovered that merchants are adopting anti-waste habits themselves. You can, for example, buy discounted baskets at the end of the day or on weekends. While some of the unsold food might not look quite as pretty, the taste and quality remain. This increasingly popular practice will allow you to make considerable savings, while discovering new foods.

Did you know that you can ask market gardeners for the exact quantity of vegetables you need? They’ll be glad to sell it to you, and you’ll avoid having surplus rotting in your fridge. Or, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, they’ll certainly be happy to suggest recipes for cooking your surplus.

Isn’t it nice to develop a closer relationship with your market gardeners and the land that feeds you? While reducing food miles? I tell you, once you try it, you’ll love it!

Here’s a quick checklist to have fun with this challenge:

  • Choose the option that suits you best: bulk buying, imperfect fruit and vegetable baskets, farm baskets or prepaid baskets a la carte;
  • Every week, try to cook a new recipe with seasonal foods to avoid getting bored with a food that’s always available (beets or squash, for example);
  • Adapt everyday recipes by substituting a few ingredients. There’s nothing like a rutabaga to replace a potato or beetroot in a recipe. I swear!

3) Eat Local Challenge

Since a resolution should be kept all year around, have you tried being locavore for 365 days?

I challenge you to visit your local market once a week to support your market gardeners and benefit from their expertise. The goal is not to buy everything you need there – although that’s quite possible, even in February! –, but rather to adopt a new lifestyle.

It’s an opportunity to buy a really good cheese, some local meat and, while you’re at it, add a vegetable you seldom eat!

I also suggest the Eat Local Challenge, which takes place in September during the harvest season. Your public market will be the go-to place to shop, overflowing with fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. You’ll save a lot of money! You can also take advantage of this time to stock up for the cold season!

Here’s a quick checklist to help you have fun with this challenge:

  • Sign up at defijemangelocal.ca;
  • Organize a Canning Party with your friends and family to share the knowledge and workload;
  • Make preserves for your popular everyday recipes (tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, marinades for sandwiches, etc.).

Voila! This year, I challenge you to adopt a more eco-responsible lifestyle to waste less, while having fun taking care of the planet! Are you on board?

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