A Bite-Sized Piece of Research from The University of Guelph

Photo: Adrian C. D'Alessandro
A collaborative research project between Dr Kate Parizeau, Dr Mike Von Massow and Dr Ralph Martin

We are a group of researchers at the University of Guelph who are interested in food waste. We are most interested in households’ food wasting habits: what you waste, why you waste it, and your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours around food waste. For two years, we’ve been collecting data on how much and what kinds of food we are wasting at home, and then connecting this data with survey results to discern the reasons why we waste food at home. To find out more, read here or see photos here. It’s a fascinating exploration!

Here are some quick facts:

The average household’s weekly food waste production was 4.5kg.

Do you waste this much food? Think about it carefully, because another finding we uncovered was that the more you are concerned about waste, the less food you throw away.

64% of all food waste was avoidable or possibly avoidable.

Think next time you want to toss food. Is it actually inedible?

·      Is it leftovers you don’t feel like anymore? Think of the cost that went into producing that meal, and how much more energy it will take you to cook a new one.

·      Is it nearing its best-before date? Toss it in the freezer or fridge to halt that progression of time.

·      Is it more than your family can eat?  Next time, plan your shopping so you don’t end up in this situation. Making a list and checking your fridge before setting out is a really simple action that is proven to significantly help you prevent food waste. 

·      Is it really “waste”? Why do we cut off the most nutritious parts of apples, potatoes and carrots—their peels? Maybe think twice about chucking beet greens, carrot tops, and bones. All of these can be repurposed into more delicious food!

 Saving food - Tip

50% of avoidable food waste was fresh fruits and vegetables.

Come see us at the Green Living Show for a suite of tips/tricks on how to extend the life of your fresh produce. But in the meantime, check out the highly useful storage tips chart here. Who knew apples are finicky bedfellows that cause other types of produce to age faster?

Saving food - Tip
Eating out more means more food waste.

You do a big weekly shop, but get busy during the week and end up buying lunch at work, or picking up take-out on the way home. …but then all the food in your fridge remains uneaten, and eventually turns into waste. If this sounds like a problem you have, look here for easy meal planning resources to help you take control of your hectic weeks! Or tell the LoveFoodHateWaste website what you’ve got, and they’ll give you recipes to save you the “what’s for dinner” headache.


The more food-aware and waste-aware our respondents were, the less food waste they created. So don’t stop learning and thinking about food waste, and keep experimenting with new tactics to lower your food waste levels…so you can boast that you are lowering these sobering statistics!

Follow us to keep updated on food, events, and waste chatter @kjhodgins @KateParizeau @Mikevonmassow

Dr. Ralph Martin will be a part of The Green Living Show’s expert panel “Appetite for Change", which look at ways to reduce food waste, taking place on Saturday March 28, 2015 at 12:45pm. See what else is happening at this year’s food feature, The Mindful Plate: Delicious Ways to Shrink Your Foodprint!