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Why would you buy one avocado for $1.39 when you can buy a bag of 10 for $2? Have you ever had a recipe call for a quarter of an onion to find yourself throwing out the other three quarters after it sat in your fridge for a week? Do you feel pressured to fill yourself and your family’s bodies with only the freshest produce, but find yourself throwing out the same bag of spinach out each week?
All of these are reasons why around the world a third of the food produced is thrown away before it even makes it to the table. Yes, this happens in supermarkets, but the majority of food waste happens in our own homes with the food we have paid for and stocked our homes with. Consumers are the leading contributors to global food waste because we are pressured to buy only the freshest ingredients, are encouraged by supermarkets to buy too much, and do not know how to utilize our leftovers.
Enter Mariya Scarborough and Deyan Aleksandrov founders of the iFeast app. iFeast is an app designed to reduce food waste by creating recipes based on ingredients individual users already have in their own homes.
How the App Works
Within the app there is a section called “My Supply.” Here, users create a gallery of the ingredients they already have on hand. From here, the iFeast app generates recipes based on a maximum of three main ingredients listed in a user’s “My Supply.” No trips to the store are required, no money needs to be spent. The iFeast app provides you with delicious recipes that you can make with what you already have, saving you time, money, and it helps the planet too.
The idea for the iFeast app came about two years ago when Scarborough broke her foot. “I was homebound and dependent on others for cooking. I started noticing how much food was being wasted so I started looking for an app that helped find recipes based on available ingredients instead of going to the store to buy more.” When her search for such an app came up empty an idea was born.
Mutual friends connected Scarborough with Deyan Aleksandrov, an iOS app developer. While neither are trained chefs, they both share a passion for good food and reducing waste. Now, two years later and their iFeast app is expected to debut on the app store before the end of 2018.
Impact of Food Waste
Consumers are throwing away 20 percent of the food they buy. On top of being a waste of money, 800 million people could be fed just from the food being thrown away at home. Total food waste across the globe reaches 40 percent when combined with waste from supermarkets.
When this food ends up in a landfill the food waste gets buried, preventing oxygen from reaching it unlike composting. The lack of oxygen creates methane as the food decomposes which gets emitted into the atmosphere and accounts for 14 percent of greenhouse gasses. Combine this with food production, which accounts for 24 percent of greenhouse gasses, or twice the amount of emissions from automobiles, and food waste becomes the biggest contributor to global warming.
Additionally, food waste is a strain on resources. By cutting back on food production by 40 percent, the portion of food that is currently being thrown away, would save water and prevent soil erosion. However, in order to influence production consumers will need to cut their own food waste, and where better to start than in your own kitchen with the iFeast App.
In the words of Denmark’s “food vigilante” and food waste icon Selina Juul “food waste is basically also the lack of respect for our nature, for our society, the people who produce the food, for the animals, and the lack of respect for your time and money.”
Alternative Ways to Prevent Food Waste
Store food correctly.
Storing fresh produce correctly could be the difference between going shopping multiple times a week to once a week. Research how to store different herbs, the best place for your root vegetables, or look up what can be frozen easily.
Box up your leftovers whether you are at home or at a restaurant. Leftovers make for a great meal to take with you to work and saves you from spending money on new food. Plus, food you throw away is money thrown away.
BONUS TIP: store your leftovers in clear containers. When people are able to see their food, they are more likely to eat it.
Supermarkets encourage us to buy items in bulk by marking large quantities down while raising the price on single items. While you can buy just what you need you can also plan freezer meals that utilize your extra ingredients. Not only are you saving money by buying in bulk and using every item, but you are saving time down the road by preparing your meals in advance.
The same goes for large recipes. If your mother’s pasta casserole can feed five but your family is smaller, make the same batch but store in two smaller containers instead of one big one. Make one for dinner tonight and freeze the other half for a different day.
Prepare food immediately.
Preparing food as soon as you get back from the supermarket sets you up to actually eat the food you buy. Cutting and portioning your food so that it is ready to prepare throughout the week will speed up cooking time later on in the week when you might be more crunched for time. It can even help you improve your lifestyle with a healthy diet by preparing your food and snacks in advance.
For More Information
While the iFeast app will not be available in the app store until the end of the year, you can still find recipes, tips for reducing food waste and more right now on the iFeast app website.