Focus on Food Waste

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Americans waste an incomprehensible amount of food. According to one report, 50% of all produce in the US is thrown away which amounts to 60 million tons or $160 billion worth. The Environmental Protection Agency has even found that food waste is the single largest component in landfills and that about 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. While restaurants, food growers and distributors, grocery store chains, and so on are largely responsible for this massive amount of waste, consumers also play a role in contributing to waste. We overbuy food which goes bad before we can use it, take “use by” dates literally, throw away leftovers, and toss aside usable vegetable scraps. Here are 10 things you can do at home to reduce food waste and eat more sustainably:

  1. Take a look inside your fridge. If you have food in there that’s about to go bad, plan a meal around it. For example, basil that’s on its last leg can be blended into pesto for a nice pasta dish.
  2. Make a grocery list before you go shopping. Not only will it save you money, but it will prevent you from overbuying food. Make sure you list out the quantity of food you need too.
  3. Buy only what you need. Buying in bulk only works if you can use all the food before it spoils.
  4. Learn how to store fruits and vegetables properly. This will expand their shelf life and is important to maintain quality.
  5. Fill up your freezer. Many foods can be frozen for later use including many fruits and vegetables, bread, and even milk! Leftovers can often be frozen for quick and easy meals later on as well.
  6. Rethink your food scraps. Utilize stale bread to make French toast, vegetable scraps to make broth, turn orange rinds into zest, and so on.
  7. Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
  8. Compost what you can’t save. Even if there is no use for compost at your house, there are programs and organizations, such as Project Oscar in Boston, that are happy to take the food off your hands.
  9. Buy the ugly fruit. Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their shape, color, or sizes don’t look like what people think they “should” look like. As long as they are free of molds or other signs of spoilage, these foods are perfectly safe to eat.
  10. Eat Less Meat. Meat production requires significantly more water and resources than growing plant based food and produces over 15% of global greenhouse gas emission. No need to go completely meat free, but start with practicing Meatless Monday to reduce your carbon footprint.

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