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8Shades Of… Amy Tsang of Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA)

In our latest edition of “8Shades of…” – where we get up close and personal with new and known faces in the sustainability field – we caught up with Amy Tsang of the Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA), which is looking to make Hong Kong more self-sufficient in terms of food production.

You may recognise the HKADA as our most recent giveaway sponsor for the #8Shades8Weeks Challenge! If you haven’t yet completed the easy challenge, what are you waiting for? Sign up here!

We played a round of eight quick-fire questions with Amy – read on to find out her best (and worst) eco-habits, her favourite veggie dish and best sustainability hacks.

1. In one sentence, tell us what you do?

Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA) aims to promote the development of agriculture in Hong Kong and regain self-sufficiency as the final goal.

2. Why are you an 8Shader?

I believe that the environment plays a huge role in our overall health and it affects the quality of our food too. In order to be sustainable, we need to make good choices in our daily life such as using less plastic, being more eco-friendly, reducing food waste and consuming more local seasonal farm products. At the end of the day, the way we treat nature now will affect the lives of generations to come. The sooner everyone starts to change their mindset, the better.

I have been living an eco-friendly lifestyle since I was a kid. I used to go out to different local farms with my family and we rented a very small piece of farmland in Fanling where we planted different organic vegetables and learnt some basic farming skills and knowledge.

3. Your best green habit?

I always buy organic veggies from local farms. Organic farming methods for both crops and animals have a much lower negative impact on the environment as there are no synthetic inputs. Pesticides and fertilisers can create a host of environmental issues; certain pesticides can poison non-target organisms such as birds, fish and plants, and harm organisms of special ecological importance, such as bees and algae. By purchasing local farm products, I reduce my carbon footprint.

4. Guilty not-so-green habit?

I travel quite a lot, and we know that aviation contributes about 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions. Travelling by air is definitely not that eco-friendly.

5. Fave eco-friendly product?

Natural laundry detergents, where the detergents are packed in recyclable bottles without chemicals.

6. Favourite veggie dish/restaurant in HK?

Homemade stewed potato and tofu puffs with tomato by my mom, the best in the world!

Win an organic veggie box from HKADA as part of our #8Shades8Weeks giveaway!

7. What is your best sustainability tip for our readers?

Start a plant-based diet. Eat local by simply buying local farm products, which will reduce your carbon footprint and support the local community. Overall, animal-based foods tend to have a higher footprint than plant-based foods, so the more “green food” you purchase, the smaller your carbon footprint and the more healthy your lifestyle.

Also, try to avoid air-freighted foods whenever you can, like asparagus, green beans and berries which need to be flown in and eaten soon after they have been harvested.

8. What shade of green are you?

Normal green. I always think before I buy anything, and make sure every purchased item is reusable or are at least made from recyclable materials. I also always buy local farm products. During weekends, I choose to travel by foot or bicycle only.

About the Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA)

Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA) aims at promoting the development of agriculture in Hong Kong, providing Hong Kongers with high quality and healthy food and uniting them with nature. Learn more here.

Next: Check out 8Shades Of Christian Yan, Co-founder of energy-efficient lighting company Nanoleaf.

keep fruits and veggies fresher for longer

How to… Keep Your Fruits and Veggies Fresher For Longer

You’ve brought home a batch of fresh fruits and veggies, put them in the fridge and gone about your life. But a few days later, everything is shrivelled, rotten or limp. What happened? Much of the time, it’s the way you’re storing them. Packing a fridge is an art, but one that can easily be mastered! To help you hit your five a day, here are some tips on how to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer. 

See also: Join Our 8-week Challenge: 8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste


Give Your Produce Some Space

We all enjoy our personal space, and the same goes for our fruits and veggies. Try not to cram your fridge: with air circulating around the produce, moisture evaporates and mold is curbed. By not packing your fridge choc-full, you’ll also be able to see and use what’s in it, helping you avoid food waste!


Watch out for Gassy Produce

Some fruits and vegetables – like apples, bananas, pears and potatoes – produce a gas called ethylene that accelerates the ripening process of other produce. Assuming you don’t want your apples rotting in a few days, keep everything as separate as you can! You should also avoid putting fruit and vegetables in the same fridge drawer, or next to one another on the countertop. 


Freeze it

Freezing food is one of the best ways to preserve it. But instead of throwing whole apples and bananas into the freezer, let fruit reach the desired stage of ripeness first, then peel and cut into pieces and freeze in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet tray until solid. You can store the pieces in a resealable plastic bag or freezer-safe container for up to three months! For vegetables, chop and blanch before freezing. 

keeping fruits and vegetables fresher for longer
Source: Pixabay


Use containers and the crisper

Generally, the top part of your fridge is prone to temperature swings. Keep your most delicate produce (like herbs and lettuce) in the middle of the fridge. Most vegetables belong in their own container, or the crisper in the fridge.


Keep them out of the sun

When leaving fruits and veggies out to ripen, protect them from direct sunlight so as not to have them ripen too quickly – or worse, rot. Tomatoes, for instance, can ripen in a cool spot in your kitchen, while the same goes for yams and potatoes.


Rinse and wrap leafy greens

To extend the life of leafy greens including lettuce, bok choy, kale and spinach, rinse and wrap them in a tea towel before putting in a separate container – like a Stasher bag. This will keep them fresher, not to mention way more convenient when you’re ready to use them.

Source: Unsplash


Keep Produce Dry

With some exceptions such as leafy greens, try not to wash produce until you’re ready to use it. While a little humidity is good for produce, wetness can encourage bacteria growth, thereby spoiling your fruits and veggies quicker. 

Even when washed, make sure that you thoroughly dry the fruit and/or vegetable before putting it away. There are some exceptions to this: storing whole carrots in a covered container of water will keep them firm; the same goes for celery. Mushrooms should be kept dry and in a paper bag.


Shop smart

The best way to keep your fruits and veggies fresher for longer? Simply do not buy too much of it at once. With so many fresh produce markets in Hong Kong, buy only what you need instead of packing your fridge to the max and letting your produce go to waste.

It’s that simple! Follow these eight tips to save your fruits and veggies from going rotten before you actually get to enjoy them. Food waste is a massive problem around the world and being more mindful of how you handle your produce will certainly help ease the problem! 

See also: 8-week Challenge: 8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

8-week Challenge: 8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that up to one-third of all food globally that’s intended for human consumption is wasted? Food waste is a much bigger problem than most of us realise but the good thing is, most of it happens at the consumer level, meaning that we all have the power to do something about it!

That’s why for Week 6 of our #8Shades8Weeks challenge, we’re challenging you to not let more food go to waste. Simply make or have a meal of leftovers and share it onto Instagram for your chance to win an organic veggie food box from the Hong Kong Agricultural Development Association (HKADA)! Sign up here!

In the meantime, we’ve prepared a handy guide for you with eight easy ways to reduce food waste:


Shop Smart

Before going to the grocery store, plan your meals – you’ll be more likely to plan healthier meals if you see them laid out and you’ll also hopefully be less likely to go out for meals during the week if you know you have food waiting for you at home. 

Also, we know it’s more convenient, but buying in bulk actually leads to more food waste. To avoid buying more than you need, make smaller, more frequent trips to the grocery store every few days rather than doing a bulk shopping trip once a week. Make a shopping list (and stick to it) to reduce impulse buying and use all the food you’ve purchased before buying more!

reduce food waste
Source: Unsplash


Store Food Correctly

Master the art of stocking your fridge by following these tips: don’t put tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in the fridge- keep them at room temperature. You should also separate foods that produce more ethylene gas from those that don’t (ethylene promotes ripening). Ethylene-producing foods include bananas, avocados, tomatoes and peaches. Ethylene-sensitive foods include potatoes, apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers. You can also keep the fridge temperature below 5°C and store cooked foods on shelves above raw foods.


Freeze Your Leftovers

One of the easiest ways to preserve food is by freezing it, and there are plenty of foods that take well to freezing. For example, greens that have become soft can be frozen to be used later in smoothies.


Put Food Scraps in the (Compost) Bin

Instead of throwing away your food scraps, throw them in a compost bin. Alternatively, you can ferment them. Fermented foods are good for your stomach and are sustainable as well!


Make Food Visible

Make sure that foods that go off first, like fruits and veggies, don’t get pushed to the back of the fridge. Keep them where you can see them, and keep them looking ready to eat.

fridge full of food
Source: Unsplash


Pick “Ugly” Food

Don’t judge food by its appearance! Misshapen or bruised fruits and veggies are often dumped because they don’t look “good,” despite tasting the same. You can use mature fruit for smoothies, juices, desserts and the ever-popular banana bread.


Understand Food Labels

Do you know the difference between “best before” and “use-by” dates? Sometimes food is still safe to eat after the “best before” date, whereas you shouldn’t eat foods after the “use-by” date. Check the labels to avoid throwing out foods before they’re spoiled!


Help Get Food Where it’s Needed

Donate to charities that collect and distribute food that would otherwise be left to rot. Alternatively, donate your time to be a food runner, delivering food to communities in need!

Wasting food is unnecessary, but thankfully super simple to cut back on. We hope that this guide helps you on your way to cut back on food waste to reduce your carbon footprint, save your food bills and help others get fed as well. Sounds like a win-win-win!

See also: Join The 8Shades 8-Week Challenge!