Diet & Nutrition
Cutting Back on Food Waste
Americans worry a lot about food – how much they’re eating, whether it’s healthy, how much they’re paying. But there’s another issue as well, one that’s often overlookd: food waste.
According to choosemyplate, a program of the U.S. Department of Agrilculture, an incredible 90 billion pounds of food goes uneaten every year. That translates to $370 in unnecessary purchases for each consumer. Perhaps even more shocking is that food waste is the single largest component going into municipal landfills, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
And that has dire consequences in a number of ways: Putting edible food in landfills prevents it from going to people who need it. And, the choosemyplate experts say, producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food uses inputs such as land, water, labor, and energy that could be available for other purposes.
It’s an enormous problem, but there are ways to help. Here are some suggestions from the choosemyplate experts:
Plan & Save
Plan your weekly menu and make a grocery list. Make sure the list doesn’t include food you already have at home. Buy just want you need; that way you will spend and waste less.
Be Food Safe
Shop refrigerated or frozen foods just before checking out. Take home items that spoil easily in a cooler or thermal bag (plus refrigerants). Put into freezer or fridge within two hours of shopping.
Check for Quality
The dates on a food package determine how long a product should be for sale. Looking at the date can not only tell you if a product is fresh, the choosemyplate experts say, but can also help you pick a product at its peak quality.
Set Storage Reminders
Track storage times for different foods using The FoodKeeper Application. This tool will remind you when foods are near to the end of their storage date.
Foods are less likely to go bad when you use the older items first. Keep your pantry and refrigerator clean and organized so you can see what needs to be eaten first.
Give leftovers a makeover when you reuse them in recipes. Add broccoli stems to a salad or
blend overripe fruit into a low-fat smoothie. Freeze extra food.
Many shelters, food banks, and community organizations will accept food donations to feed others who need a meal. Make sure the food is fresh.
Recycle and Compost
Instead of throwing out food, create a compost bin. Don’t have a yard? Your city may help you find composting or recycling options that are right for you.
For more information on nutrition, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.