7 Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste
Food waste is a greater issue than many people believe. In reality, approximately one-third of the world's food production is lost or squandered for different causes. This corresponds to roughly 1,300,000,000 tons every year.
Unsurprisingly, wealthier nations such as the United States squander more food than poor ones. According to estimates provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the annual rate of food waste in the United States is between 30-40%. If you believe that food waste does not harm you, reconsider. Tossing edible food wastes much more than just money. Methane gas, the second most frequent kind of greenhouse gas, is produced when food that has been thrown away is allowed to decompose in landfills. In other words, discarding food adds to global warming. It also wastes an enormous quantity of water. Wasted food accounts for the loss of 24% of all the water that is utilized for agriculture on a yearly basis, according to the World Resources Institute. That is equivalent to 170 trillion liters.
Being familiar with both the individual and environmental harms of food waste, raises questions about how you can prevent it. In this article, we've discussed ways and tips to help you minimize food waste.
It is a fact that food is lost or wasted at every stage of the process, from the farm to the table. Food is lost or wasted at every stage of production, including in farms, factories, supermarkets, and restaurants. Although you may not be able to influence these other aspects, you can make a substantial impact by minimizing the amount of food waste in your own household.
This is due to the fact that food that is thrown away in homes makes for the largest portion of the total quantity of food that is wasted (at 43 percent, which is greater than the amount of food wasted in grocery shops, restaurants, and food service organizations combined).
Sometimes we purchase or prepare too much food for one day. This is not a recommended practice, but you shouldn't attempt to push yourself to eat more than you need to in order to save money on groceries. Instead, keep uneaten food in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer for later use as "leftovers."
Freezing food is one of the simplest methods to preserve it, and there are an infinite number of foods that freeze well.
If the perishable food has been left out at room temperature for less than one to two hours, it is imperative that you immediately package it and put it away in an airtight container.
Greens that are a little too mushy to be used in your regular salad may be placed in freezer-safe containers or bags and utilized in smoothies and other dishes later on.
Herbs that are in excess may be mixed with olive oil and minced garlic, then frozen in ice cube trays to provide a convenient and flavorful addition to sautés and other recipes.
Leftovers from dinners, surplus food from your local farm market, and bulk meals such as chilis and soups may all be frozen. It is a fantastic method to guarantee that you always have access to wholesome, home-cooked meals.
When you're really busy, having leftovers allows you to easily grab a meal from the refrigerator or freezer rather than having to spend the money and time to cook or purchase a whole new dinner. This may save you both time and money, which are both valuable resources.
One of the most common reasons why people toss good food is the mistaken belief that it has gone bad. This is quite logical given that no one wants to consume or serve food that has gone bad and has the risk of making them ill.
Manufacturers may utilize a variety of expiration dates on food packaging, making it difficult to determine when food may spoil. The Food and Drug Administration of the United States is proposing the usage of the following in an attempt to clarify matters:
The phrase "Best if used by" is used to characterize the quality of the product (not its safety); the food may not taste or function as anticipated, but it is still safe to eat as long as it was kept appropriately.
The phrase "Expires on" indicates that after that date, it should not be consumed.
Did you know that searching through a basket of pears until you locate the one that seems to have the fewest blemishes relates to the amount of food that is wasted?
The so-called "ugly" fruits and vegetables are often overlooked in favor of more aesthetically beautiful food, despite the fact that they have the same flavor and nutritional profile as their less appealing counterparts.
Because of the high level of demand from customers, large grocery stores will only purchase food from farmers that are in great condition and meets their standards. This causes a significant amount of perfectly edible food to be thrown away. Because it is such a significant problem, large grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Walmart have begun selling "ugly" vegetables and fruits at a discount in an effort to limit the amount of food that is thrown out.
There are a few suggestions on consumption so that you do not end up wasting anything in either your grocery shopping or your cooking as a result of this predicament.
Pro Tips -to prevent this from causing waste both in your shopping and in your kitchen:
Blend It Up
Making a nutrient-dense smoothie in a blender may be a tasty method to limit the amount of food that is wasted.
The so-called "ugly" fruits and vegetables, when consumed in their full form, may not be very pleasant; nevertheless, blending them into a smoothie is an excellent method to gain the advantages of these foods.
As a result of their high content of fiber and minerals, the stems of greens such as kale and chard make an excellent addition to smoothies. Additionally, the tops of strawberries, beets, and carrots are delicious when added in as an ingredient.
Other things that would normally be thrown out, such as the peels of fruits and vegetables, herbs that have been wilted, overripe bananas, and cut broccoli stalks, may also be added to a healthy mix and used in its preparation.
Making Homemade Stock
Making homemade stock is a simple method to use extra food.
Tops, peels, stalks, and other vegetable trimmings may be sautéed in olive oil then combined with water and simmered to create a fragrant vegetable broth.
It's not only vegetable scraps that may be turned into a flavorful stock:
Instead of discarding the leftover chicken carcass or beef bones, you can boil them with vegetables, herbs, and water to create a homemade stock.
Consider sharing if you know someone who might enjoy joining you for a dinner or who would welcome your leftovers. You may either ask them over or drop off your excess food.
Find a food bank or shelter in your neighborhood and inquire about the sorts of food they take. If you have additional of these items, just give it to them.
If you want to go the additional mile, consider giving the money you saved by decreasing food waste to a local food bank or shelter so that they may buy the most desperately needed items.
Surely you've heard the expression "out of sight, out of mind." This is particularly true with regard to eating.
While having a well-stocked refrigerator might be advantageous, a refrigerator that is too full can lead to food waste.
Assist in preventing food deterioration by keeping your refrigerator organized so that you can plainly view the food and determine when it was bought.
Using the FIFO system, which means "first in, first out," is an effective approach to filling your refrigerator.
When you purchase a fresh carton of blueberries, for instance, put the newer item underneath the older one. This ensures that older food is utilized and not wasted.
Keep your refrigerator at a maximum of 4°C and your freezer at -18°C or below to preserve the freshness of your food.
According to the U.S. EPA, just 4.1% of discarded food gets composted, making composting a tremendous potential.
If you have a backyard and the capacity to compost food scraps to create nutrient-dense soil, you're off to a terrific start. Alternatively, if your city, town, or area has a composting program, you may donate to it rather than throwing food waste in the trash that is sent to a landfill.
The majority of individuals have a habit of purchasing more food than they really need. Although it may be more convenient to purchase in bulk, studies have shown that this kind of purchasing results in a greater amount of wasted food.
It is better to make many journeys to the grocery store every few days instead of one trip to purchase a large quantity of food once a week if you want to avoid purchasing more food than you need.
Before making another trip to the grocery store, make it a priority to consume all of the food that you bought on your most recent shopping excursion.
You should also strive to remember everything that's on the list of things you need to purchase by writing it down and sticking to it. This will be able to improve the control of your impulsive purchases and waste less food as a result of this.
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Food waste. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sustainability/food-waste/
Hayes, J. F., Balantekin, K. N., Fitzsimmons-Craft, E. E., Jackson, J. J., Ridolfi, D. R., Boeger, H. S., Welch, R. R., & Wilfley, D. E. (2021). Greater Average Meal Planning Frequency Predicts Greater Weight Loss Outcomes in a Worksite-Based Behavioral Weight Loss Program. Annals of behavioral medicine: a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 55(1), 14–23. https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kaaa021
RTS. (n.d.). Food waste in America in 2022. https://www.rts.com/resources/guides/food-waste-america/
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2019, May 23). Confused by date labels on packaged foods? https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/confused-date-labels-packaged-foods
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2022, February 17). How to cut food waste and maintain food safety. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/how-cut-food-waste-and-maintain-food-safety
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2022, February 17). Tips to reduce food waste. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/tips-reduce-food-waste