How often do you go to the store and fill your cart with food that you have every intention of eating, only to end up throwing away food because you bought too much or forgot about it? I know I am guilty of this far more than I should be and I’m sure this has happened to you more than once.
Food waste is a major issue not only in the United States but around the world. Approximately 40 percent of food in the United States is never eaten, while 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table. We’ve previously written about the ongoing problem of one in five children in the United States facing hunger, you can read more about that here. It is also estimated that about one third of all food produced around the world is never consumed.
Why does food waste matter?
Food waste has a financial impact, it impacts food security, and it affects the climate and resource conservation. Food that could have helped feed hungry families is sent to landfills. Resources such as land, water, labor, and energy that are utilized during the production, transportation, storing, and disposing of food are taken away from uses that could have been more beneficial. Food waste is the largest contributor to landfills. Landfills generate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. In fact, landfills are the third largest source of methane in the United States.
What is being done to combat food waste?
Much of the food waste is coming from farms, consumer-facing businesses (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.), and manufacturers. Feeding America is partnering with leaders and local members of these industries to find ways to rescue food that would otherwise have gone to waste and direct it to help feed more people in need. Here are a few of the actions already in place to rescue food:
- Starbucks Foodshare: A dedicated truck picks up unsold food each night and quickly redistributes it through Feeding America member food banks.
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee works closely with one of the country’s largest bean growers to rescue the millions of pounds of green beans snapped too short for grocery stores.
- MealConnect: A new innovation from Feeding America that makes safe and quick food donations possible by matching food businesses directly to the Feeding America network. Local stores, restaurants, and hotels can use MealConnect to notify local food banks when they have food ready for immediate pick up. Making more good food available to those who need it most and reducing the amount of food ending up in landfills.
Tips for reducing your food waste:
- Complete a “waste audit.” Make note of everything that you throw away over the course of a couple of weeks to figure out what you’re wasting. Also make note of the cost of the food you throw away; you’ll feel the financial impact of just how much money you threw away.
- Be realistic when shopping. Are you putting too much in your cart? Are you overestimating the amount of time you’ll have to cook during the week? Plan ahead for a busy week and if possible; shop often and buy less.
- Meal plan and use a grocery list. Plan out your meals, make a grocery list based on what you need to make the meals, and stick to the list. Also don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry; you’ll be more likely to overestimate what you need or put extras in your cart when you hungry.
- Know the best way to store your food. The way you store your food can impact how long it will last. You can find a resource here that has tips for storing your food.
- Freeze your food. If you’re unable to consume your fresh fruits and vegetables before they go bad, freeze them for later. Frozen fruit works great in smoothies, and the vegetables can be heated up quickly to have with your dinner. The same applies for any fresh meat you purchase. Freeze whatever you don’t use before it goes bad.