The weather is starting, very slowly, to warm up in my neck of the woods. As I look out my living room window, I can see my vegetable garden beds waiting for me. I've paid my check to my local CSA (community-supported agriculture) farmer to make up what I can't grow in my yard. It looks like I'm all set for a great season of fresh veggies!
But along with growing and buying veggies, greenmomsters have an additional goal -- avoiding food waste. Did you know that the U.S. wastes about 40% of the food we grow? That's over 1 billion tons of food each year! That's a tremendous waste, not only of food, but also the water (global food production accounts for 70% of freshwater use), energy, and fertilizer that go into growing that food. I recently came across a nice list of things we can do at home to reduce our food waste, courtesy of the Great Falls VA chapter of the Sierra Club. Take a look at these suggestions and think about implementing a few suggestions. It'll save you money AND help the environment!
Tips for Reducing Food Waste
by Helene Shore
- Take stock. Know what you have and plan meals based on what’s in your fridge and pantry. Make sure to make a shopping list before you go to the store.
- Stick to your list. It’s a costly waste if you can’t consume what you buy, even if that 2-for-1 sale looks like a great deal.
- Buy ugly-looking produce. Tastes as good or better. Bananas with brown freckles on the peel are sweeter.
- First in, first out. Store older food items in front of your recently purchased items.
- Prioritize perishables. Have a section in your fridge for foods that need to be eaten ASAP, or put a label on them.
- Keep it fresh. Use airtight containers, preferably glass.
- Preserve it. Freeze, can, or dry excess. Think of freezing berries and veggies, as well as cooked beans and grains for future use. Try making jam, sauces, etc.
- Understand labels. “Use by” and “Best by” labels are not expiration dates. They’re only the manufacturer’s suggestion. Food beyond those dates is often perfectly safe to eat.
- Get creative. Make soups, stews, smoothies. Got a little of this, a little of that—it makes a great soup. Use that last bit of barbecue sauce to make dressing or a marinade.
- Use it all. Only compost or toss non-edible parts of produce. Celery leaves, carrot tops, lemon and orange rinds, etc., are great for cooking. Clean out jars. Use a spatula to get that last bit of stuff.
- Serve wisely. At home, put less on your plate (better for waistline as well). You can always go back for more. Eating out? Share a portion if it is large, or take leftovers home with you to eat for another meal.
- Save it for later. Freeze leftovers. Make sure to label and date the container so you know what it is.
- Share. Share the excess with friends. Have a potluck and use it up. Or, donate that extra can of something you bought and decided not to use.
- Be aware. Be a better-educated consumer and advocate. Advocate for grocery stores, bakeries, etc., to donate food they aren’t going to sell.