Tips for Less Food Waste
I will admit it: I am not a white glove housekeeper. (One of my childhood friends had a father who actually put on white gloves to check on her dusting. I would fail miserably.) But even my refrigerator was crying to me for some help a few weeks ago and I spent the better part of an hour cleaning it.
What I found was pretty disturbing in itself: I had a lot of containers of food that were growing mold.
As bad as that is, I realize I am not alone. Perhaps you have the most pristine frig and use everything in a timely manner, but I bet most of us have a container or two, behind the tall bottle or jar, that just goes unnoticed….and soon you have something that would be a great bio lab experiment.
But, here’s the deal: This is a real problem and while I could already surmise that the U.S. would top the wasteful list, it’s a global issue.
The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology commissioned an in-depth study on food waste which revealed that 30% of the world’s food supply is lost or wasted. This waste occurs at every step in the food chain from agricultural production to processing to distribution and consumption. The more industrialized the nation, the further along on that chain, the waste occurs. And at the consumption level, which is the stage I’m talking about in this post, the most wasted items are fruits and vegetables.
Think of the impact.I’m not going to chide you about the people in other countries who are hungry but if you realize you are wasting 30% of your own food budget, maybe you will try to be more careful. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Begin to notice what’s in your trash. Start paying attention to what you throw away and share that information with your household. Get your kids involved documenting it for a full week and then put together a plan to adjust your purchases accordingly. (This goes way beyond food items.)
2. Inventory your pantry and your refrigerator. Move older items to a visible place in the front.Make sure your refrigerator temperature is low enough. That will slow bacteria growth without freezing your food.
3. Make a meal plan ahead of time to ensure you use what you have on hand. This will also help you avoid supermarket “three for two” specials designed to drive consumption. And everyone knows the bit about not shopping when hungry!
4. Learn to save food by canning, freezing or dehydrating. Freezing is also great for nuts, leftovers and bulk purchases. And if you cook enough to take something to work for lunch the next day, do it!
5. Put pressure on your children’s school to have outdoor playtime before they eat. That way the kids aren’t tossing their lunches in the trash in order to get to four square and the swing set.
6. Find ways to use the whole vegetable; carrot tops, beet, radish, and kohlrabi greens. Learn how to use wilted veggies in an appetizing way. This can be fun and you’ll end up with some new specialties.
7. Find useful substitutes for those items required for your recipe that you might not use again. (That jar of chutney was never opened again…..)
8. Share. If it’s a better deal to buy a larger quantity, try to find a friend who’ll split it with you. After purchase, when you have a big quantity, send some to a neighbor or have them over for a meal.
10. Because it’s so easy to go in and get out quickly, buy seasonal food several times a week at the Wild Ramp or directly from farmers. I’ll bet you saw that coming!