One thing I really strive to avoid is food wastage, not only is it a waste of money but I feel it's possibly the easiest way for me to reduce my carbon footprint.
Just a quick Google search will tell you that in Australia every person wastes 300kg of food each year. To be more visual, this works out to be 1 in every 5 bags of groceries being sent to landfill. While in landfill, this food waste contributes to 5% of our green house gas emissions (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment).
This is one of the main reasons why I like plan my grocery shops and I get a real sense of achievement when the week ends and I've not thrown out any food (food nerd alert). But even with the best of intentions and careful planning, life happens and sometimes I don't get to cook my food before it goes bad.
1 in every 5 bags of groceries end up in landfill
Fresh is obviously best and the sooner you eat your fruit and veggies, after they are harvested, the better. But after seeing some green beans in my fridge that had seen better days, I wondered just how far I could push their use by? As you can see from the image below, they were still firm, free from mould but they did have some brown marks. Does this mean I should throw them out or eat them? (I know what you're thinking, and yes I'm dealing with the big questions in life :)).
Now, just to clarify, I'm not a food scientist and this isn't my area of expertise, so please if I get this wrong, leave me a comment to correct me. However, what I did find from a little digging was that, worst case, eating decomposing fruit or veggies can lead to food poisoning which we obviously want to avoid. At the other end of the spectrum you'll just get a product that doesn't taste as good as freshly picked.
The key thing with fruit and veggies to look out for to avoid the worst case, is mould and this is because mould can produce mycotoxins that can lead to food poisoning. The thing with mould, especially mould that has really taken off is that it can penetrate deep into the food so simply cutting it off may not help. So if you see any mould, it's best to use the fruit and veg to build your compost and not to try to eat it.
Also if your fruit and veggies have started to go slimy, then it's also best to throw them out as that slime is bacteria growth.
The good news is without mould or slime, those brown spots on beans can be cut off and then they are good to go. As the beans aren't very fresh anymore it would be best to cook them and not have them as the main feature in a dish as you won't get that delicious bean taste. For these beans, I used them to cook up a Chickpea Curry and froze it all for a later date. You can try my Chickpea Curry (sans spoiling beans if you're lucky to have fresh :)).
Bottom line, don't be too hasty to discard fruit and veggies that are starting to turn but watch out for:
* Mould - put the whole thing in the compost
* Slime - you won't like it but the worms will
* Cut off any brown bits
* Always wash your fruit and veg
* Cook older produce to make the most of the lost flavour.