Our food dilemma

Tomtit Farm is a small veggie patch created in 2019 and run by a couple of friendly farmers, Brit and James.

Kiwis are paying more for kai – and throwing more of it away.

A new survey shows that Kiwi households are wasting $1500 of kai every year – a 4.8 per cent increase from last year, and a staggering $3.1 billion nationwide.

Kaivolution, a Waikato-based food rescue initiative, says it diverted 433,275kg food waste from landfill in the financial year to July 2022. That’s equivalent to the  weight of about 430 family cars.

The Rabobank-KiwiHarvest research cited bread, fruit, and vegetables as three of the most wasted food items.

It comes as Statistics New Zealand reveals the largest annual increase in grocery prices in 13 years.

Zero Food Waste Challenge is running this week with the aim to assist and inspire households to change the waste statistics. It’s part of the lead up to the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste next Thursday.

The challenge asks participants to put “nothing, nada, nil, zip, zilch, kore, zero” food in the bin for the duration of the week, offering zero-waste resources and giveaways in return.

Mātangi-based organic vegetable farmer Brit Stembridge, owner of Tomtit Farm, designed her business with zero-waste principles in mind. Running a community-supported agriculture scheme means that excess and waste is avoided, as the garden is grown to order.

Brit thinks if people knew how to make the most of their kai, less of it would go to waste.

“You’ve paid good money for your vegetables, so why not get the most out of them? The green part of a leek, broccoli stems, and carrot tops are delicious with lots
of fibre.”

She also recommends upgrading your food storage system so food lasts longer.

“Keep your vegetables in an airtight container in the fridge. We use a larger snap lock container with a paper towel in the bottom to absorb the moisture, you can also use jars to keep herbs and microgreens fresh, or reuse your snap lock bags for salad greens.”

Anything you have too much of to get through, Brit recommends pickling.

“We pickle our broccoli stalks, radishes, turnips, carrots, cabbage leaves, beetroot and pretty much anything that we have too much of or are not going to include in your cooking.

A simple pickle recipe is to heat 250ml of vinegar with 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp salt. Place all the veg in a sterilised airtight jar, add 125ml of water, along with the vinegar, salt, sugar and herbs and spices, if using. Close the lid and give it a good shake.

You can use these straight away and they will keep in the fridge for up to 8 weeks.”

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