Simple Ways You Can Make a Difference: Reduce Food Waste

Quick, what does your produce drawer look like? If you’re like many of us, you probably have some “fresh” produce that is anything but.

We all hate to waste food, but it happens. In fact, according to this article, nearly one-third (that’s 1.3 billion tons) of our worldwide food production is discarded or wasted. In industrialized countries where food is plentiful, such as the U.S., the problem is especially pronounced. According to the EPA, Americans discarded 37.6 million tons of food waste in 2015, 94% going directly to landfills or combustion facilities.

Now, that’s a problem. Food doesn’t just rot, it produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. Also, think of the entire food chain. Food waste equates to the loss of 24% of all the water we use to grow food (45 trillion gallons).

You can make a difference and reduce your food waste. In the process, you’ll not only benefit the environment but your pocketbook. Here are just a few ideas from (and we’re not even talking composting – yet):

Shop Smart. Forget those marathon grocery store trips and shop like the Europeans – more frequent and targeted shopping trips. Think of what you’ll need for the next few days and then use up that food before you buy more. Menu planning and advance shopping lists help immensely.

Store Smart. Did you know improper storage leads to much of our food waste?  For example, don’t refrigerate potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onions, or cucumbers (who knew?). Also, separate foods that produce more food-spoiling ethylene gas from those that don’t. For example, ethylene-producing bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and green onions don’t store well with apples, leafy greens, berries, or peppers.

Preserve It. If you simply have too much of something, preserve it. Don’t throw out those extra ripe apples – make applesauce, or pickle fresh carrots or cucumbers. You’ll enjoy something you’ve made yourself long past the expiration date. They also make great gifts!

Convert It. Do you buy cartons of stock or broth? Why? Take your vegetable scraps, add a bit of oil or butter, and simmer in water for vegetable broth. Or, take that chicken carcass and simmer with your choice of vegetables and herbs for delicious homemade stock.

Want more great ideas to cut down on food waste? They’re right here.

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