6 Tips to Reduce Your Foodprint on Earth Day and Every Day

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd, but here on Canada’s Food Island we pay homage to Mother Nature each and every day. After all, Prince Edward Island’s rich food scene is only possible thanks to our iron-rich red soils and pristine waters.

Here, you can also see where your food comes from and connect with the people who grow and harvest it. You can ask them questions about their growing practices and enjoy the very freshest ingredients while you learn about the many sustainable practices our farmers and fishers follow to protect the Island’s precious resources for generations to come.

In honour of Earth Day, we’ve put together 6 of our top tips on how to reduce your ‘foodprint’ on the planet all year-round.

1. Buy Local

Male farmer holding a bunch of kale

Here on PEI, buying local isn’t just some new trend, it’s a longstanding tradition that helps the planet, fosters a strong sense of community, and supports the Island economy.

Buying ingredients from local producers can help reduce the ‘food miles’ of your grocery haul, which often translates to reduced carbon emissions and fuel costs too.

When you purchase perishable produce, such as greens and herbs, from local growers chances are it’s fresher than its imported counterparts. And that can result in less food waste, as the local produce is likely to last longer.

2. Make a Plan

Did you know that between 30% and 50% of all food waste happens in the kitchen?!

Food waste is not only hard on your pocketbook, it’s hard on the planet too.

According to Canada’s National Zero Waste Council, “Canada’s 2.3 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste is equivalent to 6.9 million tonnes of CO2 and 2.1 million cars on the road!”

One of the keys to reducing food waste at home is planning. And by planning, we mean creating a meal plan, putting together a grocery list, and trying your best to follow it once you get to the store 😉

Or, another way to plan is to check what’s in your fridge, identify what needs to be used up and then source out recipes that’ll use up those perishable ingredients. Soups, frittata, casseroles, and pasta sauces are all great options for using up veggies!

Ready to start meal planning to save the planet and your money? Check out our recipe database for all sorts of inspo.

Have a bunch of veggies to use up? Check out our video on How to Build a PEI Potato Power Bowl – Chef Brittany Boothroyd and RD Crystal MacGregor will walk you through the steps to build a nutritious, delicious power bowl AND offer tips along the way on how to upcycle food scraps such as potato peelings and cucumbers that are going a little soft!

3. Store Food Properly

As noted in #2, food waste is a significant contributor to carbon emissions and it can eat away at your budget (pun intended!).

That’s why storing food properly is so important – it can extend the shelf/fridge life of your groceries, giving you time to use them up before they go bad.

It isn’t always obvious how we should store foods once we get them into our kitchen. Where they are stored at the grocery store can give you some clues, but you’ll want to dig a bit deeper. The National Zero Waste Council offers up valuable tips on how to store foods from A – Z.

On Canada’s Food Island, we’re especially keen to make sure folx know how to store their PEI potatoes properly! Here are a few tips:

  • Store in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place such as the basement or a cupboard in a cool room (usually the kitchen is not ideal, as it tends to be too warm)
  • Add an apple to your potato bag – the ethylene gas given off by the apple will prevent your potatoes from sprouting
  • Conversely, do not store your potatoes with onions as it will have the opposite effect!

4. Use All Parts of the Plant or Animal

lobster bisque

From root-to-leaf and hoof-to-snout, we are seeing a renaissance in the way chefs and home cooks are using every part of the plant or animal.

Not only is this good for the planet because it reduces food waste, it’s also good for our health and getting out of our same-old-recipe ruts!

One of the things we love best about our famous PEI shellfish is that it’s easy to use everything. The delicious meat of lobster, oysters, and mussels is easily enjoyed in full (well, some folks don’t eat the lobster body, but they are missing out!). And the shells can be added to any seafood stock for an incredible flavour boost.

Did you know a traditional lobster bisque is made by boiling the lobster shells down until they are super soft, then liquifying the shells with a blender and using this stock (pulverized shells and all!) as the soup’s base?

5. Batch Cook & Freeze

fish cakes

Leftovers sound great when you prep dinner on Monday, but we all know how easy it is for those storage containers to get lost in the back of your fridge. According to Canada’s National Zero Waste Council, 13% of the food we throw away at home is leftovers.

Worry not, because there IS a better way and it’s called batch cooking.

What is batch cooking? Batch cooking is when you make a large quantity of a specific food and then freeze it in individual portions for later consumption.

Batch cooking differs from simply cooking a meal and packing up whatever is leftover in the sense that you plan, cook, portion, and then freeze. No need to guess whether you’ll have enough left over after your spouse has gone back for seconds!

When you’re searching out recipes to batch cook, take the following into consideration:
What veggies/perishable ingredients do you have in the fridge that you want to use up?
What will you/your family look forward to eating more than once in the next month?

Our recipe database is a great starting point for your batch cooking adventures! Here are a few of our favourites:

6. Talk to Your Farmers & Fishers

On Canada’s Food Island, our farmers, fishers, and other food producers are passionate about the work they do and their role as stewards of the land and waters. We encourage you to take the time to talk to your local farmers and fishers about their growing practices and sustainability efforts. You’ll probably be surprised by what you learn and you’ll be fostering a connection with your farmers!

Farmers’ markets offer a great opportunity to connect directly with the folx that grow your food. Other ways to connect with farmers/food producers and learn about their environmental practices include:

  • Open Farm Day – on PEI, this one-day event takes place each September
  • Social Media – many farmers are active on social media and will share outtakes from their daily life
  • YouTube – here on Canada’s Food Island, we’re passionate about sharing the stories of our farmers and fishers and have a whole collection of behind-the-scenes videos
  • Sign up for a Farm Tour – Not all farms are able to welcome the public, but some farmers may offer tours during certain times of the year.

So Many Other Ways to Reduce Your Foodprint

Well, there you have it – 6 simple ways to decrease your ‘foodprint’ on the planet throughout the year! We have lots of other suggestions too, including:

We would love to hear your ideas for how to reduce food waste and support sustainable practices in our food system!

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