You might not believe it, but food waste is a big problem in the United States. The National Resources Defense Council report that 40 percent of food in the US goes uneaten – that’s 20 pounds of food per person, per month. That has to stop! For one, it’s wasteful. That amount of food is equal to more than $2,000 wasted by a family each year. Second, it impacts our environment. Rotting organic matter (like that wilted lettuce you threw out last week) accounts for 25 percent of US methane emissions. And methane is a greenhouse gas even more impactful than carbon dioxide. So what can we do to stop this?
First, we can buy less. By using grocery lists, taking up meal planning, and avoiding impulse buys at the grocery store, we can reduce the amount of food we end up not eating. We can also buy items in bulk. While that sounds counterintuitive, bulk items like nuts, pasta, and grains can be precisely measured, so you only buy what a recipe calls for. The same thing goes for produce – if you only need two red potatoes, don’t buy the five pound bag of them! Speaking of produce – don’t be afraid of the funny looking stuff. Just because a carrot is twisty and gnarled doesn’t mean the taste is affected. So go ahead, buy the weird looking fruit. You’ll save it from a landfill and it’ll taste just as good as its attractive neighbor.
At home, we can practice FIFO – first in, first out. So when you bring home a new bag of carrots, be sure to use up the old bag first. On that note, keep track of expiration dates – there’s few things worse than getting ready to have a bowl of milk and cereal and realizing that the milk expired last week. You might even want to consider writing the expiration dates in marker on the wrapping – easier to see than the tiny pre-printed dates that come on items like milk and meat. If you’re worried about not eating food before it goes bad, preserve it! You can toss food in the freezer, can it, pickle it, even dry it! All of these methods will help the food last longer, and keep it out of the garbage.
Finally, when you absolutely cannot eat the food, still don’t throw it in the garbage. Compost it! Food waste is a great addition to compost, and will keep it out of the landfill. If you don’t have space to compost, try freezing the waste until you can take it to a composting facility. Problem solved!
To learn more about food waste and how to prevent it, head over to Greatist and read 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste.