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Wasting Less Food

Posted on Thursday, January 27, 2022
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Per the United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the USDA, America’s food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This shocking statistic calls for all U.S. citizens to make vital changes in their habits. Discarding food is not only costly and a waste of money, but it is also reckless and bad for the environment. Here are a few tips to help folks at the consumer level protect important food resources and waste less.

Quit overbuying goods. Food spoilage is a major consequence of overbuying. This is because meat, produce, and other perishables such as bread can go bad quickly. Overbuying also has negative financial effects as what gets tossed amounts to monetary losses. To stop overbuying, make a list and stick to it. Watch for quantities and only buy what you will use.

Watch expiration dates. Always check for expiration dates. The shelf life indicates the length of time foods may be stored and consumed before they go bad. Avoid buying items with a close expiration date unless you plan to use them immediately. 

Split food. Splitting food with a shopping buddy, such as dividing bags of apples or potatoes, may not only save on food waste but can cut some shopping expenses in half. Thus, it’s a win-win.

Store food correctly. Improper storage of foods can cause them to spoil quickly. Understand which products require refrigeration or freezing and do your best to observe those storage directions. Note that fruits and vegetables have unique refrigeration requirements. For example, carrots do well in the refrigerator, whereas potatoes and tomatoes do not.

Avoid promoting spoilage. Always keep sensitive food away from others that may cause them to spoil faster. For example, foods like bananas and apples can produce ethylene gas while ripening. Thus, they should be stored away from other foods that are sensitive to gas, such as grapes, lemons, and lime.

Give ingredients a second life. Ripe bananas don’t necessarily have to be tossed. Rather than let them turn to mush, ripe bananas can be used to make banana bread, muffins, pancakes, and more. And they can be frozen and later used in those recipes or to make smoothies. “Scrap” food such as ends of carrots, celery heads, diced onions, chicken bones, and Parmesan rinds can be reserved to make chicken stock. Try to use up what you have before buying more food.

Eat leftovers. The microwave is a great way to heat up leftovers. And eating leftovers can save money as they can be easily packaged and reheated for lunch the next day. Or get creative in the kitchen. For example, rather than toss previously cooked leftover vegetables, add them to a quiche or to canned tomato or Alfredo sauce to create a rich vegetable sauce to serve over pasta.

Share food with others. Whether you grow your own produce and have an overabundance, or you tend to cook large portions, consider sharing food with neighbors or offering food support to community members in need.

Cook less. Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and we end up cooking and tossing uneaten foods. By being sensible about serving sizes and cutting recipes in half, we may not only save food, but we may ultimately incorporate portion control as part of a healthy eating process.

Donate excess before it goes bad. If you have non-expired foods that you do not plan to use, be sure to donate them to a worthy organization so that your donated items go towards feeding those in need.  

Preserve food. Turning apples into apple sauce or pickling cucumbers are great ways to preserve foods that might otherwise be tossed. In doing so, that will extend the ordinary life of those products.

Wasting food is sadly commonplace for many Americans. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can all do our part by making wiser decisions when it comes to buying, storing, using, and sharing foods to cut down on waste. It’s also beneficial to stay educated on effective methods to reduce food waste at landfills, such as composting. Reducing food waste decreases methane emissions from landfills and lowers our carbon footprints. Using food resources with care supports the community and conserves energy. Remember that together, we can fight against food waste to make the world a better place.

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