Food sustainability: tips for less food waste

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Many people feel they’d like to live more sustainably. And when it comes to cooking, this doesn’t have to be a huge effort. With simple tips, we can all do something for the environment from our own kitchen. Michelin star chef Tobias Funke tells us how.

No food waste: tips from star chef Tobias Funke

As sustainability doesn’t stop at the kitchen door, this is a good place to start. Star chef Tobias Funke has already earned two Michelin stars – one of which is green. As a 2021 winner, he was one of the first chefs to receive this accolade. The prestigious chef shares a few simple but effective tips to avoid food waste.

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Tobias Funke manages the successful Gasthaus zur Fernsicht in Heiden (AR).

Tip 1: use preserved foods

Farmers reap the rewards of hard work and warm weather with an abundant harvest – it's therefore all the more disappointing when the fruits of the harvest have to go to waste. This can be avoided by preserving the goods in jars. And the result not only tastes good but the foods also last longer. Freezing fresh vegetables is also a good option – since this preserves the vegetables’ nutrients.

Tip 2: no plan is also a plan

Drawing up a weekly menu plan might make sense for many people – but not for all. After all, unforeseen encounters and appointments often arise that ruin even the best made plans. The consequence is that food gets left in the fridge and eventually goes forgotten. Buying on a spontaneous basis can be the solution. We could leave the shopping list at home for once and put together a meal from what the farm shop happens to be offering that day, for example.

Tip 3: ask the professionals

Is there a surplus of potatoes, courgettes or apples? Which vegetables are in season in winter? Is there any meat or bread that can be saved from landing in the waste? Ask the farmer, butcher or baker you usually buy from – they know best and often have good cooking tips.

Tip 4: observe the «best before» date

It’s a good idea to keep an eye out when browsing along shop shelves. The best product to land in your shopping trolley is the one with the earliest expiry date: if it isn’t sold soon, it will land in the waste.

It’s okay not to be perfect

«Addressing sustainability and asking yourself what optimisations can be made to your everyday cooking habits can be the first important step,» says Tobias Funke, «as it’s the many little deeds that contribute to the success of the whole.» What no-one should forget: you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.

Shelf life of foods

With «best before» dates, manufacturers guarantee that their foods are good to eat up to this date. But most foods last much longer. With «use by» dates, more caution should be taken. These dates indicate particularly sensitive foods like raw fish, for example.

How long can certain foods be eaten?

The shelf life of a product therefore often stretches past the ‘best before’ date. But how can you tell whether a food product is still edible? Feel free to trust your senses. They will tell you.

  • Sight: has a slimy film formed on the meat? Are there bubbles in the milk? Or blue-green spots on the bread? These are visible alarm signals.
  • Smell: if a food product smells mouldy, rancid or sour, it should not be eaten.
  • Taste: you’re not sure whether you can trust your nose? Then use your sense of taste – but cautiously.

Caution is advised with meat and fish

Meat, sausages and fish are particularly sensitive. After the «use by» date, they shouldn't be eaten. If you notice a distinct change of smell, taste, colour or consistency before this date, it’s maybe better to be cautious and dispose of the product.

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