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'Like throwing money down the drain': Food waste is out as grocery prices rise and budgets tighten

Carleigh Bodrug's culinary innovation sparked a viral sensation, resonating with millions facing escalating grocery costs and tighter budgets. Through her "scrappy cooking" approach, she transformed leftover orange peels into delectable candy, igniting a conversation about food waste.

In her upcoming cookbook and social media series, Bodrug shares inventive ways to repurpose kitchen scraps, from carrot tops pesto to crispy potato peel snacks. This movement comes at a crucial time, with the UN reporting that the average Canadian household wastes 79 kilograms of food annually due to various factors like improper storage and overbuying.

Apart from its environmental repercussions, wasted food hits hard on household finances. The National Zero Waste Council estimates that over a third of domestically produced food in Canada is discarded, amounting to a staggering $49 billion annually. Similarly, the US Department of Agriculture notes that a family of four wastes around US$1,500 worth of food yearly.

Bodrug emphasizes the economic potential in reducing food waste, particularly as households spend over $200 on groceries weekly on average. With 3.2 million followers on TikTok, she advocates for practical solutions to minimize waste and save money.

Toronto-based chef and activist Joshna Maharaj sees a nostalgic appeal in the "scrappy cooking" trend, reminiscent of earlier generations' resourcefulness during times of scarcity like the Great Depression. Despite modern anxieties about cooking, Maharaj asserts that homemade meals are both nutritious and economical.

Transitioning to a zero-waste kitchen involves simple habits like weekly meal planning and utilizing leftovers creatively. Maharaj recommends culinary techniques such as canning, fermenting, and freezing to prolong food shelf life. Additionally, she suggests incorporating scraps into dishes like omelettes and soups to minimize waste.

Heather O'Shea, the voice behind the blog "From Hustle to Homestead," advocates for practical steps like freezing vegetable scraps to make homemade broth. She advises starting small and gradually adopting sustainable practices to reduce waste and save money in the long run.

Ultimately, the movement against food waste is about fostering mindful consumption and embracing the potential of every ingredient. Whether through "scrappy cooking" or simple kitchen hacks, Canadians are finding ways to stretch their grocery budgets while reducing their environmental footprint.