It came upon the midnight clear. I was staked out in my house watching football (Go Bucks!) hiding from all the rain that hurricane Joaquin bestowed upon us when the hunger pains started to hit. I rummaged through my fridge to see what ingredients I had on hand to play Chopped. I opened my produce drawer and that’s when the stench hit both Alex Guarnaschelli and myself…
To my dismay, I had let my produce go for too long and it had rotted. My inner hippy was very disappointed in me. I try my best to not waste food because:
- A-I am not rich...
- B-it is a HUGE waste and is not good for the environment
- C- Every time you waste food a kitten dies…
What is food waste?
Food waste is considered any food that is discarded or uneaten for whatever reason; this could be from the producer, manufacturer, or consumer side. This includes anything that is rotting in your fridge right now, food scraps left on your plate, etc.
Why should I care?
Here are a couple of reasons:
- Food insecurity-This means that people do not know where or when there next meal is coming from due largely to financial struggles. Yes, your parents are right, there are people in Africa starving, but there are also people right here in the U.S. that are starving as well, somewhere in the ballpark of 48 million people.
- Money- Riddle me this, would you go buy four steaks at the grocery store (or farmers market is an even better choice), walk out the door and then throw one of them directly in the trash? Despite me being an “adult,” my parents would probably smack me upside the head for that. Not only is this a waste of financial resources but also natural resources, which leads me to my next point…
- Environmental impact-Instead of writing this out, I am going to just leave this here…Natural resources used to produce crops (loss of water, fossil fuel, land, etc.)àtransportation and packaging of foods (loss of energy and fossil fuel and addition of waste from packaging)àfood thrown awayàlandfillàrotting food emits methane gas (very potent greenhouse gas)àglobal warming
How big of an issue is this?
It is estimated that 30-40% of the food supply is wasted in the US, with a large majority of that being wasted by the consumer. This equates to about 20 pounds of food per person per month. Food is one of the largest components in landfills in the U.S. Basically what I am trying to say is this is a HUGE issue. Aside from money we are wasting natural resources while the state of California and other parts of the country are in middle of a pretty bad drought…
Blah, blah, blah, Beth
For those of you who just cannot with words and reading today, John Oliver did a great segment on this topic so you do not have to read. NOTICE: In this clip he does use some profane words, watch at your own discretion. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8xwLWb0lLY
PSA: Sell by dates
I am going to step on my soapbox for just a second. Use by and sell by dates are useless. These dates have nothing to do with food safety; they are arbitrary guesses by the manufacturer as to when the food will be the freshest and of the best quality. The only food that the federal government requires to have an expiration date is baby formula. Yes, these dates may look all official, but so does this…
How can I reduce my food waste?
There are tons of ways you can do this, but here are some off of the top of my head:
- Only buy what you will actually be able to eat-do you really need a 10 pound tub of butter for you and your seven cats? Didn’t think so.
- Cook the right amount- Are you and your seven cats really going to eat an entire pan of lasagna? Unless your cat is Garfield, my guess would be no.
- Use your freezer- Have some meat, bread, or produce that is about to go bad? Throw it in the freezer and voila! Crisis averted!
- Embrace “ugly” fruit and vegetables-Let’s not get so caught up on looks, I mean you are going to be cooking/eating the food not dating it to take home to introduce to your parents---no need for all the anxiety.
- Use smaller plates and serving utensils- By using smaller plates and serving utensils you will serve yourself less food and reduce the risk of over serving yourself. If you underserve yourself, don’t get your panties in a bunch, just go back up for more.
- Store food properly- Obviously, you will want to keep foods that are suppose to be stored cold, cold. If you have produce on the counter that is starting to go, toss it in the fridge or freezer to stop the ripening process.
- Take sell by and use by dates with a grain of salt (unless it is baby formula)-If you have cooked something, a good rule of thumb that I use is to consume it within seven days or if it starts to smell or mold.
- Compost-There are times when it is a good idea to throw food away rather than consume it for food safety reasons. When this happens, you should entertain the idea of composting. Now, composting is not just for crazy hippies so hear me out.
For more tips/ideas check out this article.
Breaking it down
Food waste is a big issue for a multitude of reasons so STOP WASTING FOOD! Eat what you buy, don’t take more or cook more than you can/should eat, take sell by and use by dates with a grain of salt, etc., etc. Basically just go back and read through the section of how to reduce your food waste. I for one do not make enough to buy watermellons just so I can play basketball with them and watch them smash on the ground…
...even though that does sound like a pretty good/entertaining idea to me. Now if you will excuse me, I am about to go make it rain Tom Haverford style…
Until next time!
Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,