If your banana is a bit brown or your lettuce is a little limp, an Ottawa organization wants you to think twice before you throw out your food.
Foodsharing Ottawa works with residents, grocery stores and other food sellers to promote sharing food that’s still edible to prevent it from going to waste.
“If you consider that almost half of all the food production gets wasted at some point in the food production cycle, then I think we need to do something about it,” said founder Carolin Ross on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.
Ross began Foodsharing Ottawa about a year and a half ago after moving here from Germany, where the food sharing movement is big.
“We take everything that the grocery store can’t sell anymore for whatever reason. It could be that it’s past the best before date. It could be that the produce is not pretty anymore — it’s bruised or it’s a bit squishy, the package is damaged from other products. Those can all be reasons for grocery stores that they can’t sell it anymore. So that’s where we come in,” said Ross.
From there, volunteers share the food with charities or individuals who need it. For its efforts, Foodsharing Ottawa just received a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Foundation, money Ross says they’ll spend on marketing materials.
‘Know what you have’
Different dates on food products can often confuse consumers and lead to unnecessary food waste, according to Ross. Just because food is past its “best before” or “sell by” date doesn’t mean it’s off.
“Look at it. Does it look fine? Does it smell fine? You can eat it,” she said.
Ross adds that a lot of food that might appear bad can be salvaged. “If you have food like lettuce which is not pretty anymore — it looks a bit sad maybe — you can just take a plastic bag and put it in there, put a few drops of water in, close the bag, and put it in the fridge overnight, and it will be beautiful the next day again,” she said.
She recommends residents interested in getting involved with food sharing join the organization’s Facebook group for more tips and information about how to donate and receive food in Ottawa.
“I think the best way to prevent food waste at home is first of all know what you have. Check your fridge, check your cupboards … before you go shopping,” said Ross.
“And then when you go shopping, just have a grocery list with you, which tells you exactly what you can buy. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the offers.”