Guest post by Marlina Phan, Intern
George Bernard Shaw is famous for saying, “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” Most people love food. Do you? I know I do (if I had the option to marry it, I would). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations claims that one-third of food produced worldwide is wasted. So if we love food so much, how come we waste so much of it?
Reducing our food waste provides benefits (here are a few):
- You’ll save money. Here in the U.S., each of us spend $370 a year on food that is thrown out. Wouldn’t you want to spend that valuable money on something else?
- You’ll help the environment. Reducing food waste benefits the Earth by reducing greenhouse gas emissions since decomposing foods release methane. And, wouldn’t it be great to use precious resources like water on food that we actually eat? Also, some food scraps could used for compost instead of being thrown out.
- You can help hungry people. There are hungry people in every community. If the food you buy isn’t going to be eaten, you could donate it to local food banks.
How should I start reducing my food waste?
There are lots of things we can do – and lots of places to go for ideas (including the USDA, EPA, and state Extension offices for starters). One thing we all could do first is to use the food we already have at home before going grocery shopping again. Check the pantry, the fridge, the back corners of your cabinets—anywhere you store food! See what you have on hand, and then use it! It’s as simple as that. Here are some ideas about what else you can do:
- Check items in your fridge for freshness. See if that meatloaf from last week is good or screams food poisoning by using the FoodKeeper Application by the USDA. Still good? Use it up!
- If you end up with leftovers, freeze them immediately or give them a second life by repurposing them in a new recipe within the next couple of days.
- Realize that you don’t have to buy food in bulk just because it could be cheaper. Even if you intended to save money, it’s not being saved if you don’t use all of it.
- Compost appropriate food waste. You can use it for your own garden or share it with a neighbor for their garden!
- Don’t automatically toss your food scraps (stems, stalks, peels, etc.); some of them can be used creatively! Stale bread can become garlic toast, croutons, and bread pudding. Beet tops can be sautéed or used in soup, carrot peels can enhance a stock, and broccoli stalks can be chopped into a stir fry or salad. You get the idea.
Once you start reducing food waste, you’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to think of additional ways to do so. Everyone can have a role in reducing food waste and every effort can make a difference. What interesting way do you cut down food waste? We’d love to hear about it!