Fruit turns to chutney. Fresh vegetables get frozen for future use. Fresh bread is turned into delectable delights. Even leftovers prepped for other dishes are preserved. Nothing goes to waste. This way of thinking is what we should all adopt to limit the amount of food waste across the nation and globe. Keep reading to see how your family could saves thousands of dollars each year – just stop wasting food.
Big agri-business, biotech companies, the U.S. government, and the World Trade Organization all claim that GMO crops are the solution to world hunger, but that isn’t the answer, nor has it ever been. GMOs are a step in the wrong direction for food sovereignty and sustainability.
In the US, food loss in dining establishments amounts to over 49,296,540 lbs in all full service restaurants per day, and 85,063,390 lbs in all fast food restaurants. On average, a restaurant can produce 150,000 lbs of garbage per year, but that isn’t the only place food is wasted.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), getting food to our tables eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of fresh water consumed in the United States. Yet, 40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This amounts to more than 20 pounds of food wasted per person, per month.
The Restaurant That Wastes Nothing
Conversely, the chef of a novel Copenhagen restaurant has taken a completely different approach to sustaining our food supply. His restaurant, ‘Rub & Stub’ opened last year after a group of environmentally conscious friends decided to do something about the huge amount of food waste in the restaurant industry.
This Danish restaurant features a variety of dishes every night, created using produce and bread that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Chef Søren Grimstrup looks forward to numerous donations of food dropped off daily by owners of cafes and grocery shops and then spontaneously plans a tasty menu. He says the food isn’t ‘bad,’ it is just normally thrown out.
Rub & Stub also utilizes a volunteer work force. Only two chefs and two managers are paid a salary, and the rest of the proceeds are donated to charity. On any given night, more than 150 diners fill seats at the restaurant.
Following the lead of this ingenious establishment, a similar restaurant opened in Amsterdam this summer, called Instock. This eating establishment also utilizes food ‘scraps’ that would normally end up in the garbage. Though you’d never know it by looking inside. The tables are covered in white linen and the main dining area is well illuminated by sunshine streaming in from a wall of windows. They aim to eliminate the food wastes that come from food production, consumers, and restaurants alike.
People can eliminate food wastes too, that occur in their own kitchens. You can try some of these great recipes using your leftovers. Or instead of throwing out wilted greens, put them in a compost pile, or try freezing bruised or over-ripe organic fruit for use in smoothies or baked-goods recipes. You can even ask your favorite vendor at the farmer’s market for ‘seconds’ to use in a host of delicious concoctions.
Stop Wasting Food!
The amount of food waste produced globally each year is more than enough to feed the nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world. What’s more, U.S. families waste thousands of dollars every year from unnecessarily throwing out food.
Here are 14 ideas to stop wasting food:
- 1. Shop smarter. Don’t buy food on an impulse, and plan your meals with a grocery-shopping list. You are less likely to buy things you don’t need and that will end up going to waste. Wait for your perishables to be all used up before you purchase more. You can also check out these apps for extra-easy meal planning.
- 2. Cut out the junk. You will eat more and waste more if you eat nutrition-less food. Skipping convenience foods will ultimately help feed yourself and your family for less money and greater nutrition. Sure, organic apples and baby greens spoil, but there are hundreds of ways to make them into something delicious. What’s more, these foods aren’t full of MSG, toxic chemicals, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup ,and carcinogenic ingredients like man foods sold by food manufacturers like Coca-Cola and Frito Lay.
- 3. Buy only what you need. If you don’t normally like to munch on carrots but you are making some soup that requires a few, don’t buy a whole bag of them. Go to the loose carrots in the produce section and get just what the recipe calls for. Bulk bins are also a great way to save money and reduce waste. If you only need a teaspoon of coriander once in a blue moon, then don’t purchase an entire bottle of the spice. This will also ensure that what you do use is fresh, and nothing goes to waste.
- 4. Shop for you, or your family appropriately. If you live alone, you likely don’t need a 15-pound bag of grains or other bulk-purchase foods that go to waste if not used right away. If you have a big family, then buying perishables in large quantities makes more sense. Buy accordingly.
- 5. Have a Plan B for foods you buy. Didn’t get around to using that fancy cheese for a special occasion meal? Just eat it with apples for lunch at work the next day or invite friends over to indulge in your lavish food purchase. Never let food go to waste because it didn’t fulfill your original intent for its use.
- 6. Move new products to the back of the fridge. Try to use up foods that will expire sooner, rather than later. This way you won’t open a new yogurt container before your old one is completely used up, thus saving food and money.
- 7. Consider documenting food waste for a week. If you have a habit of throwing out a half loaf of bread every week because it always goes bad before you can eat it, consider purchasing a half loaf from your bakery next time, or make your own bread in smaller portions. Sometimes you won’t realize just how much you throw away until you write it all down. Challenge yourself to do that for just 1 week and see where you can buy less or save more by freezing or canning.
- 8. Plan meals for foods about to expire. Have some meat left in the fridge that is about to expire? How about some cheese, or kale that is starting to wilt? Plan your meals around the foods that are about to go bad, and save them from the garbage heap.
- 9. Make one meal a week from leftovers. There are hundreds of meals you can make from leftovers. Here are a few great recipes like potato soup and pear tartlet made from foods that are about to go bad, but end up good.
- 10. Store foods properly. Just using correct food storage procedures can make food last much longer. Follow some of these food storage tips to make food last.
- 11. Donate. If you have cans of beans or boxes of pasta you will never use, don’t let them just sit in your cabinets – donate them to a food kitchen or charity before they expire.
- 12. Give food scraps to farmers. Many farmers will happily take food scraps to feed to livestock or to add to a compost heap. Check with your local farmers to see what they accept. Or you can check out one of these resources.
- 13. Can it, pickle it, preserve it. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has tons of information about how to make food last with tried and true methods.
- 14. Educate others. Have a great recipe that uses leftovers? How about a delicious jelly recipe made from bruised or over-ripe fruit? Share this information with others and talk about how reducing food waste can eliminate the need for GMOs and other non-sustainable farming practices. We can all do this together.
Have any other tips to stop wasting food? Share your comments below!
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.