Did you know that Canadians spend approximately 34% of their weekly grocery budget on produce? Did you also know that a significant portion of fruits and vegetables get thrown away each year? In a new study commissioned by the KitchenAid brand (no longer available online as of Dec 2020)* findings show that the average Canadian spends approximately $40.80 per week on fresh produce but will throw out close to 10% of their purchases – cumulatively wasting billions of dollars** worth of uneaten fruits and vegetables each year.
If you’re like me, you tend to get overly enthusiastic when purchasing fresh produce and when those fruits and vegetables reach the end of their lifespan (usually much sooner than you are counting on), you find yourself scrambling for recipe ideas and you always plan to spend the better part of a Sunday in the kitchen cooking up dishes so that produce won’t go to waste. But it doesn’t always work out like that and, I’ll admit, I throw out more produce than I’d like to. Less than a few years ago but, still. What’s helped us reduce our waste over the past few years is making sure we buy often and smaller quantities but that’s not always possible, I know, especially for busy families.
What many Canadians don’t know is that they are unknowingly shortening the lifespan of produce simply by storing it improperly. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents in the KitchenAid Fresh Facts survey did not know that certain fruits and vegetables should be stored separately to ensure maximum freshness. Did you know that produce like apples and green onions emit ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process and can cause undesired changes in taste and texture? Other produce like spinach and yams are sensitive to ethylene gas and should be stored separately from ethylene producing fruits and vegetables. With more than half of Canadians (55% according to the Fresh Facts Survey) willing to pay more for premium fruits and vegetables (local, free trade and/ or organic), it’s important to know what to do to extend the lifespan of our produce.
The KitchenAid® Preserva® Food Care System available in select KitchenAid refrigerators, helps keep produce fresher longer with built-in ethylene absorption, humidity and temperature control, and air filters to reduce odours. This refrigeration innovation can actually help delay over-ripening by up to 25 per cent in commonly purchased produce – a key benefit for the 68% of Canadians in the Fresh Facts survey who said they would buy more produce each shopping trip if they knew it would last longer. My beautiful new KitchenAid fridge does not have the Preserva® Food Care System but I was provided with the KitchenAid Produce Preserver kit – a small cartridge you place in your crisper bin which will absorb the ethylene so the produce stays fresher up to 4 days longer! Stay tuned for the results of my experimenting with this but I am excited to think that I’ll be able to extend the life of my produce.
That being said, who doesn’t ALWAYS have a couple of sad looking bananas on their countertop? Actually 41% of Canadians surveyed in the Fresh Facts survey said they regularly throw away bananas and 90% of them feel guilty about it. Well guilt begone – let me help you rescue your sad bananas and turn them into something delicious…
Stay tuned for the results of my KitchenAid Produce Preserver experiments, more Fresh Facts and a recipe to help you use up another produce item that often finds its way into the green bin.
* A survey of 1501 Canadians was completed online between May 21 and May 23, 2013 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
** Canadian households (13, 320, 600 [based on 2011 Census data] multiplied by $190.94) of wasted produce per Canadian household per year.
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