Why Should You Reduce Your Food Waste?
The largest percentage of waste in the American food system occurs at homes, with 27 million tons of waste, or 43% of all waste. The average American throws away over a pound of food per day.
That pound of food has even heavier consequences. When food is wasted, it’s a drain on natural resources like the water, land, fertilizers, energy, gasoline, and labor necessary for making any meal. Between 2018 and 2019, 18% of US cropland and 14% of freshwater was dedicated to the production of uneaten food. Food takes up the most space of anything in landfills and generates about 7% of all GHGs.
Let's Do It!
We’ve compiled a list of 10 different strategies adapted from onethird’s food waste prevention guide. Some are good for beginners, and some kick it up a notch.
1. BUY UGLY PRODUCE
We’re all picky shoppers – and that extends to food. Sometimes high quality food is thrown away simply because it doesn’t have the right look. Almost half the food grown in the US is thrown away because it can’t be sold. Some food delivery companies will even send you the produce that doesn’t aesthetically make the cut for grocery stores to help food waste. But you can also hunt for fruits and veggies in the market you think others will avoid.
2. SAVE LEFTOVERS
This may seem obvious, but many times we choose to scrap the excess food because in the moment its too much of a burden to package and store. But, those couple moments will save you time for a meal tomorrow! If it’s not something you’ll eat right away, try freezing it for the future.
You may not realize how often it is that you simply forget about items in your fridge, just to find them weeks later covered in mold. By keeping an organized fridge and pantry you’re much more likely to see your food and eat it!
4. MAKE A HIGH-PRIORITY SHELF
This piggy-backs on reorganizing – a fun way to ace two strategies in one go! It’s easy to forget what’s in your fridge. Keep foods nearing expiration and recent leftovers in a designated area on the top shelf of your fridge. That way when you’re looking for something to eat, you have a place to check first!
5. LEARN TO PRESERVE
There are numerous ways you can preserve food for it to last longer. Many are simple to implement and can offer interesting new ways to explore favorite eats. Let us know which one you try this month:
• Pickling in vinegar
• Immersing in olive oil
6. MAKE A STOCK
Don’t toss those stalks, tops, and peels – they can help make a rich base for soups, stews, and sauces. Every time you meal prep, throw your vegetable scraps into a bag in the freezer until you have enough for a batch of broth. There’s no rules to what you can or cannot use (add some herbs, and oil if you like!). Place everything into a large stock pot, add water, boil, and simmer covered for 1hr. Strain out the scraps! Use it soon, or freeze in small portions for later.
7. MAKE A SMOOTHIE
We tend to throw away parts of fruit and vegetables that we think are inedible and scrap any bruises or mushy parts we see. However, these can actually be some of the more nutrient and fiber-rich portions of our produce. Instead of trashing them, collect what you don’t want to eat and toss them into a blender to round out a smoothie (or freeze them for later).
8. MAKE A LIST... AND EAT FIRST
When we’re hungry, we want to devour everything in sight. This often leads to overbuying. One study showed that hungry shoppers bought an average of 46% more high-calorie products than those that ate just before shopping. Make a list, and stick to it! If you buy additional items, make sure you schedule them into your meal preps for the week.
9. RESEARCH EXPIRATION DATES
The dates you see on food labels are not usually related to food spoilage. Instead, the dates tell you how long food maintains the best taste and texture. The USDA has created an app, FoodKeeper, just for this purpose! Using it can help answer the questions you have about the food in your fridge and pantry.
10. RECORD YOUR TRASH FOR A DAY
Much of the food waste problem is because we don’t even realize it happening. By keeping a log of what food you throw away, you can then have a starting point in finding alternative uses for those food items.