We talk a lot about plastic pollution, but there are numerous issues threatening the Earth that must be discussed. Namely, food waste.
Food waste is an enormous environmental problem. Food production uses an immense amount of precious resources (i.e. land, water and energy). And in the U.S., it’s estimated that we end up wasting about 50% of it, leading to food waste being one of the largest culprits in our overflowing landfills.
The average American wastes 400 pounds of food each year, and in 2017, U.S. residents as a whole threw away $218 Billion dollars worth of eats. That's not even counting how much food gets tossed before it even reaches grocery stores, and that number is staggering as well.
Household food waste could be drastically reduced if we all made a few small lifestyle changes to prevent it.
Here are a few tips for wasting less food...
A ton of food is actually wasted before it even hits grocery store shelves. Have you ever noticed how shiny and uniform apples look when piled in grocery store bins? They didn’t all grow on the tree that way! Because of our culture’s aversion to less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables, the "ugly" (yet perfectly tasty) ones get tossed. In fact, one in five fruits and veggies grown don't meet cosmetic standards.
So when you see misshapen fruits and vegetables, buy them! Because chances are they’ll be thrown out when other customers pass them over.
Also, make sure you're well armed with a meal plan or list when you walk in to your grocery store. This might help you avoid purchasing food that "sounds good" but ends up spoiling in the back of the refrigerator.
Store Food Properly To Avoid Spoilage and Waste
Some fruits and veggies prefer to be sealed up tightly while others like to be placed in a breathable container. When it comes to a tight seal, you can't do better than stasher bag. It's truly the best at preventing the oxidation that turns foods brown and soft. You'll be surprised and delighted to find the other half of your avocado still green after many days in a stasher.
Some greens, like fresh herbs, will last much longer if you leave the stems on and put them in a glass of water, just like you would do with cut flowers. Some produce will also wilt or spoil less quickly if it is washed and prepped before being tossed in the refrigerator. You can extend the life of berries by washing them in a diluted apple vinegar wash (1 cup vinegar and 8 cups water). They’ll mold less quickly!
Check out this complete list to learn how to most efficiently store each type of produce.
Repurpose Overripe Fruits And Veggies
Bananas, berries, and other fruits that have gotten too soft are perfect for smoothies! Freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet, then throw them into a stasher bag, press out excess air, and seal. Vegetables that are past their prime crunchiness can be used up in purees, or put in a bag in the freezer to be turned into vegetable broth. You can also save veggie scraps (peels, ends) for this purpose!
Store And Use Extra Food
When you have leftovers, store in a container that you can label (if you’re using a stasher bag, you can write right on it with a dry-erase marker). Place them near the front of your refrigerator shelves to remind you to use them up.
You can also try freezing meals you don’t think you’ll eat right away. Instead of letting extra herbs wilt, chop them up, freeze them in cubes and stash them in the freezer in a stasher bag. You can even plant some herb and veggie scraps to let them re-grow.
Composting is a great way to keep food and veggie scraps out of the landfill, where they won’t decompose properly sealed inside a plastic trash bag. There are many different methods of composting, for any space! Those with a big backyard can use traditional composting methods, and apartment dwellers can sign up for a city composting program (check to see if your area offers one) or use the Bokashi method.
Of course, the best way of all to reduce food waste is by cultivating a healthy respect for the food we buy and eat, understanding the hard work and resources behind it, and committing to show our love for mother earth by being conscious consumers!
This post was written by our friend Hannah Theisen, editor of life+style+justice, founder of a beautiful refuge and a member of the ethical blogger network.