when i recently read why food waste matters by jonathan bloom (author of american wasteland) , i started giving thought to all the food we buy, eat and sometimes waste. we’ve all wasted food before. even me, who married a
garbage disposal wonderful man who eats a lot, we still find rotten food in the fridge. whether it’s moldy leftovers in the far back corner or a forgotten veggie in the ‘crunchy’ drawer, we’ve all been there.
the truth is, americans squander roughly 40% of our food and throw away $1,300 to $2,200 of food a year (together, that’s $160 billion annually). and that’s a big problem.
why, you might ask? well beyond the obvious reason of wasting our money, there are also environmental, ethical and economic reasons why food waste matters. a huge amount of resources (mostly oil and water) go into producing our food. when we waste a large chunk of it, we’re also wasting those embedded resources. and, by sending this food to the landfill, we’re fueling anaerobic rotting which creates methane. that means we’re largely contributing to climate change. we could also be smarter shoppers and give our savings to help feed the hungry around the world.
the good news is, fresh supplies us with several tips on how to reduce your food waste, save money and support the environment. here’s how!
– plan your meals in advance (remember this great guide?). make a menu for the week and stick to it. it will make your life easier, your grocery bills cheaper and decrease your amount of wasted food.
– make just enough. serve sensible portions, clean your plates and have minimal leftovers (plus, maybe shed some weight!).
– check your expiration dates. try to consume food that’s close to expiring, but always check it before you throw it out. if it smells good, tastes good and looks good, you’re most likely fine to consume it.
– love leftovers? go ahead and make enough for the next day, but make the most of it. eat them for lunch or work them into your next night’s dinner, but make it a priority to consume them within 24 hours.
– use the freezer. if you’re going out of town, can’t finish a jar of pasta sauce or just have too much food in your fridge, stick it in the freezer. you can freeze just about anything (even eggs!) so utilize your freezer to cut down on waste.
– learn to compost. by keeping food waste out of the garbage (even carrot ends and fennel fronds!) you’ll significntly cut down your environmental impact. you can compost anywhere, even if you don’t have a garden!