The Department of Agriculture says 30% to 40% of food goes to waste in the United States — and the figure is likely higher because of the coronavirus pandemic. Food waste has become a dangerous habit: buying more than we need at supermarkets, letting fruits and vegetables spoil at home, or ordering more than we can eat at restaurants, including takeout.
We have formed habits that hurt our world and put extra strain on our natural resources. When we waste food, we waste the labor, money, and precious resources (like seeds, water, feed, etc.) that go into making the food, not to mention the resources that go into transporting it. In short, wasting food increases greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to climate change.
But habits can change. Here are some easy things you can do:
- Start small – Take smaller portions at home or share large dishes at restaurants.
- Leave nothing behind – Keep your leftovers for another meal or use them in a different dish.
- Buy only what you need – Be smart with your shopping. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Don’t buy more than you can use.
- Don’t be prejudiced – Buy “ugly” or irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables that are just as good but look a little different. A great example of this is Misfits Market discounted produce delivery.
- Check your fridge – Store food between 33 to 41 degrees for maximum freshness and shelf-life.
- First in, first out – Try using produce that you had bought previously and, when you stock up your fridge and cupboards, move older products to the front and place newer ones in the back.
- Understand dates – “Use by” indicates a date by which the food is safe to be eaten, while “best before” means the food’s quality is best prior to that date, but it is still safe for consumption after it. Another date mark that you can find on food packages is the “Sell by” date, which is helpful for stock rotation by manufacturers and retailers.
- Compost – Some food waste might be unavoidable, so why not set up a DIY compost bin?
- Donate the surplus – Sharing is caring.
Source: adapted from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations