Sustainability Series: 5 Ways to Minimize Food Waste

Did you know that 40% of food that's grown, manufactured, and produced in the U.S never gets eaten? If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter, behind the U.S and China.

When we think of stopping climate change, we think of plastics, oil factories, and transportation, not the food on our plates.

The average American family spends over $1,500 yearly on food they will never eat, food they could have donated, preserved, or composted.

Our relationship to food needs to shift from Food waste ⤑ wasted food.

This subtle word shift has substantial meaning. When we say “wasted food,” our minds conceptualize the resources and nutrients being thrown away. This mindset also shifts more responsibility to us (the consumers) to shop consciously without the impulse of excess.

Merely cutting down your food waste could have the same environmental impact as going vegan or vegetarian.

You don't need to change much to make a difference; being conscious of your consumption is a great start.

There are so many solutions to food waste.

Here are 5 ways to cut down on food waste. 

 

1) Shop Consciously 

 

Food waste starts at the grocery store. Many people buy more than they need. 

 

Planning out meals and ingredients ahead of time is a great way to cut back on food waste. Sticking to your grocery list is essential when it comes to meals with a short shelf life. 

 

Start shopping with food waste in mind, and you'll save money and the planet. 

 

2) Forget produce perfection 

 

When buying and eating food, be aware of your "produce perfection" standards, this alone can help you cut back on food waste. 

 

Although identical in nutrition and taste, Many fruits and vegetables with a single bruise or look slightly different typically get left behind. Practice letting go of the expectation of picture-perfect produce; nature is naturally different! 

 

3) Store sustainably 

 

Learning how to store your fruits and vegetables properly is a substantial attribute to food waste. 

 

Many individuals are unaware that improper food storage leads to premature ripening and spoiled produce. 

 

Did you know that tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, potatoes, and onions should never be refrigerated? These fruits and vegetables need to be stored at room temperature.

 

Ethylene gas promotes ripening in foods. It is essential to separate products that produce high ethylene gas to decrease rapid ripening. .

 

Foods that produce ethylene gas while ripening include:

  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantaloupes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Green onions

 

Keep these foods away from ethylene-sensitive produce like apples, leafy greens, berries, potatoes, and peppers to avoid food waste. 

 

4) Save leftovers 

 

Overcooking is not a bad problem to have. It's just a matter of remembering the food in the fridge. 

 

Storing leftovers in a clear glass container in a visible part of the fridge is a great way to cut back on food waste. Labels of when you cooked the meal are also a great touch! 

 

5) Compost 

 

Composting is a great way to turn your food scraps into a soil amendment. Whether it is starting a compost system at your own home or finding a local pickup service, this is an incredible way to feel positive about your waste.