Food waste in Canada is an enormous and largely preventable loss. According to data from Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, 58% of all food produced in Canada was lost or wasted. The largest portion of that waste happens at the manufacturing and processing stages, but household waste comprises 14% of all food wasted.
Hosted by Diplomatico Rum, we learned about the problem of food waste in Canada, about how companies like theirs are working to become more sustainable, and about how to make your cocktails with less waste.
What can you do?
We heard from Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, and she shared some great tips for reducing household waste.
- Buy less. If you buy in bulk to get a bargain, it’s not a bargain if you have to toss it. Just buy what you need when you need it.
- Donate what you don’t need. If you do buy in bulk, or if you have more than you can use, consider donating a portion to a local food bank.
- Use your freezer. Almost anything can be frozen. If you know that you won’t use the food in the fridge before it spoils, freeze it.
- Understand Best Before dates; Best Before does not mean Bad After. The science that goes into making the best before date is imprecise at best, and the dates are very, very conservative. Best before dates are Nikkol’s nemesis because they lead to unnecessary and preventable waste. Use your own best judgement, and don’t throw food out just because it has passed the date. (The important and rare exceptions for this are baby formula, liquid meal replacements and protein bars–all foods which must retain full integrity to deliver the nutrition needed.)
- Stop stigmatizing surplus food. Surplus food is not garbage; it is the result of a faulty system. Last year, Second Harvest supported 4.2 million Canadians with nutritious, valuable and much-needed food. The enormous amount of surplus food is the result of a broken system, one that has been designed to manage waste rather than reduce it.
- Vote. Put food waste on your electoral agenda, and ask your local, provincial and federal representatives what they are doing to meet Canada’s obligations to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Canada has committed to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on responsible consumption and production, on climate action, and on zero hunger, but as of yet, there is no way to measure our accountability. As Nikkol states, “Charity exists where policy doesn’t.” Demand clarity on our policies to meet our sustainability goals.
Of course, another way to support the fight to reduce food waste is to support companies that make sustainability a priority.
Diplomatico Rum is just such an example, and their conscious production process makes both their community and the environment a priority. As part of their “distilled consciously” commitment, they have reduced their water consumption by 50% since 2015. In addition, the waste water from their rum production is turned into fertilizer for community farms.
Zero Waste Recipes
Gavin Miller, brand ambassador for Diplomatico Rum, shared a simple recipe for making the most of your citrus fruits. They aren’t just for juice! Use the peels to make a citrus syrup, then juice the fruit for the cocktail, then use the remaining pulp for citrus stock.
Diplomático Lime Daiquiri
This daiquiri-style cocktail uses Oleo Saccharum, which is a bartender trick to use the whole citrus to make a key ingredient in cocktails. It refers to extracting the oil from citrus peels by using sugar.
How to make the Oleo Saccharum:
Peel a lime and place the peels in a bowl. Sprinkle a few ounces of granulated sugar on top, muddle it lightly into the peels. Cover with a lid or with cling film so that the mixture is airtight. After a few hours, the sugar will have extracted the oils from the peels, leaving you with a slightly messy yet delicious syrup. You can use this technique for any citrus fruit.
1oz lime juice
0.75oz lime Oleo Saccharum
Juice the remainder of the lime. Add the juice, rum and Oleo Saccharum to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into cocktail glass, garnish with lime zest or one of the sugared peels.