Conscious Consumption: Food
Last June, when I left Gouda for Utrecht, I noticed that living on your own is more than only paying the rent to your landlord. With having a busy schedule as always, cooking generally results falling back in your standard patterns: quickly grocery shopping for your pasta pesto or, in my case, couscous salad.
Though, when I do take more time for preparing dinner, I like to do this as sustainable as possible. By buying products that you will use for different dishes, you take a first step in being more conscious concerning food and food waste. Because on average, a Dutch person wastes 42 kilos of food per year. In comparison, we eat around 1 kilo of food per day (Geurts, 2017). So imagine that people will waste more than a month of food.
Another option of buying more sustainably is looking for the best deals. This might look very Dutch, as it saves you money, but it can also combat food waste if the price is reduced because of an approaching ‘expiration date’. I personally enjoy wandering through the Albert Heijn, Jumbo, or Ekoplaza, finding products on sale and thinking of what I can prepare with them. However, this still takes time and we just concluded that a student lifestyle is a fun but busy lifestyle.
Is it possible to fight food waste and doing this while not necessarily spending much too time in a supermarket? This question luckily has already been answered for us. In this world where everything is being optimised, apps are developed to help us being even more efficient.
There are two applications that I would like to highlight in this blog, regarding reducing food waste in Utrecht.
The first one is Too Good To Go. Via this application, you can buy a box of products at a restaurant or supermarket with products that otherwise were thrown away for a small price. The application shows you where and when you can come pick up your box. The only “downside” is that you need a credit card or PayPal to be able to buy the boxes. Plus, you do not know what will be in the box, so if you have any dietary wishes, this might be a somewhat risky concept. Of course, the chance of getting fish in a bakery is neglectable ;)
The second application is called ResQ. This is comparable to the one above, but then only for restaurants. Usually, they give you a fifty percent discount on a dish that would have been wasted if no one would pick it up. In the app, you have the option to create your own account with your wishes regarding food, resulting in that they will only show you the relevant restaurants and dishes.
For now, this app only works in Utrecht (yes!), Amsterdam and Den Haag.
Of course, you still need to visit a (super)market for other groceries you need. Already in your “conscious mood”? You can use the application Groente- en Fruitkalender to check how sustainable it is to buy that specific vegetable or fruit. The application is in Dutch, but easily understandable for internationals because they work with colour systems. Besides that, Google Translate will help you out if you want to understand the background information the app provides you.
Milieu Centraal has developed this application to give customers insight in the impact on the environment per type of fruit or vegetable in each month. They take into account the method of production, the way of transport and the most common packaging material for the country of origin and the period of the year. Based on this, an impact assessment is carried out after which the products are divided in environmental impact scores (A-E). In the application, you will find a whole, way more elaborate, section on how everything is measured. The app then also informs you on how the products is conserved the best, which again supports combatting unnecessary waste. Shopping with this app really changes your view on all the fruits and vegetables around you and is worth trying for sure!
Geurts, M., Van Bakel, A.M., Van Rossum, C.T.M., De Boer, E., Ocké, M.C., (2017). Food consumption in the Netherlands and its determinants: Background report to ‘What’s on our plate? Safe, healthy and sustainable diets in the Netherlands. (RIVM Report 2016-0195). Bilthoven, The Netherlands: RIVM. Retrieved from: https://www.rivm.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/2016-0195.pdf