Children enjoy making a mess, and that includes throwing food all over the place. When children don’t want to eat their vegetables, the parent or adult commonly instructs them to eat their food because there are less fortunate, starving children in countries around the world. As such, many of us learn to feel guilty for wasting food at an early age, but the sad truth is that many people continue to waste food throughout their entire lives.
About 40% of the all the food in America is wasted. All of that wasted food could feed roughly 60 million people around the world. On a global scale, the amount of wasted food could feed about one billion hungry people in the world. Wasted food comprises about 20% of the solid waste in landfills, where it cannot properly decompose. The reason for this is due to the lack of air in landfills. The surrounding inorganic materials make it impossible for the food to break down. The organics begin releasing methane, which is about 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide, and this greatly contributes to climate change.
All of this is not to say that we should keep eating until we can’t move. That doesn’t have a positive outcome. You don’t have to let the guilt of wasting food paralyze you; rather, you can use the following tips to help reduce food waste at home.
One Bad Spot Does Not Mean It’s Bad
A lot of people are disgusted by the slightest indication of mold. If there is a little speck of it on a tomato, for example, slice off that area and use the rest of it. Sometimes you can see that a vegetable or fruit will go bad if it isn’t used within the next day, so plan a meal that includes that food.
This sounds intimidating, but it is quite simple and beneficial for the soil in your yard or garden. Get a large airtight container (can be a quart-size container) and keep it close to the area where you cut fruits or vegetables. Any stems, ends, bad spots, peels, eggshells, or seeds can all be thrown in that container. When the container fills up, go outside, dig a small hole with a shovel, and throw the scraps in the hole. Chop them with the shovel and then cover them with dirt. Worms will come, compost the food, and richen the soil with nutrients.
Learn To Use The Entire Produce Item
Too often do people buy a produce item and throw a large portion of it away. The broccoli stem, for instance, is commonly tossed into the garbage. It can be shredded for salads or it can be thinly sliced for stir-fries. People who buy beets with greens typically throw the greens away, but they can be treated like chard or spinach. Eat them raw, sautéed, stewed, or boiled!
Befriend Your Freezer
A lot of people purchase bread and meat (poultry, beef, or pork) in America and it can sometimes go bad before it is used. Freeze sliced bread or meat that you know you aren’t going to finish before it’s bad. You can also prep a lot of meals, for example, soups, smoothie bags, or sauces and then freeze them. A great way to save fruits or vegetables before they go bad is to freeze them and use them in smoothies.
FIFO stands for First In, First Out. Upon returning home with a new load of groceries, move the older products to the front of the fridge, freezer, or pantry and the newer products in the back. This allows you to use the older items before they expire or turn bad. When you use up anything that comes in a glass jar, you can also wash it out and use that as a cup or container.
Lastly, try to take stock in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to know exactly what you need before you go grocery shopping. You don’t want to buy too much of one thing or buy an item you already have.