How much food do you waste? Most people might have a difficult time answering that question. You may not even be aware of how much food you are actually wasting. In the USA alone, food waste is estimated to be at 35-40% of the total food supply. That is over a third of all food being WASTED, tossed away, and never to be eaten.
Not only is this a loss of food that could have fed families most in need, it is also a vast waste of resources. That is land, water, labor, and energy that goes into producing food only for it to never end up on our plates. Each year in the US we spend $172 billion in wasted water for this food.
When this food doesn’t end up on our plates, it often ends up in landfills. The rotting food produces a large amount of methane; a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more potent that carbon dioxide. It is estimated that growing and transporting this wasted food, produces the the same amount of greenhouse gases as 39 million passenger vehicles. In simpler terms, FOOD WASTE IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.
The global food system is responsible for approximately 1/3 of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions. And with global food waste at approximately 33%, you can see how much food waste is contributing to the climate crisis. However, this also means that there is an opportunity for us to help lower the carbon footprint of the global food system.
So, how you can you waste less food?
Perhaps the simplest way to create less waste is to use what you already have. It has become so common place for many people to buy more food or takeout when they already have a fridge and cupboard stocked full of food. This often results in your forgotten food going bad and you tossing it away. Be sure to keep up to date with what food you do have so you are less likely to let any of it spoil.
Only buy what you need. Especially in American, we are known for supersizing our food quantities, especially when hosting parties or events. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or party of 10, be realistic about how much food you actually need. If you do happen to purchase too much food be sure to save your leftovers, rather than throw them away.
Eat your leftovers. Instead of tossing the the rest of your food away, save them and use them later on in the week. If you don’t want to eat the same meal for five days straight, repurpose your leftovers into a different meal; add spices, herbs, and different seasonings to…dare I say…spice things up.
Use all of your food. It has become standard to only use parts of the food that we buy. Have you grown accustomed to cutting off half of a carrot before you eat it? Tossing away the broccoli stems? Throwing away the final piece of bread? This is one of the most common ways that people waste food. Start noticing how much food scraps you toss out when cooking and how much of that is truly necessary and how much of it is out of habit? Feeling stumped on how to waste less?
-You can indeed eat broccoli stems, just cook them as you would the rest of the plant.
-Save your leftover veggie scraps in a Tupperware in the freezer. Once it is full, boil them in some water to create homemade veggie broth.
-Eat all of your apple except for the very core.
-Stale bread? Chop it up and fry it in a pan with some olive oil and garlic to make homemade croutons.
-For more tips on “how” to limit the amount of food wate, I recommend following Max La Manna who is a zero-waste chef!
Lastly, compost those small scraps that you can’t eat. When we compost our food, it produces significantly less methane than when we throw it away and into the landfills. If you have a yard, or extra space, you can start your own compost bin. If you are a city dweller you can still compost your food scraps. Many buildings already have composting bins. If not, contact your local government and public utilities to discover how you can start getting compost at your place. For those in the Seattle area, use the link below:
Food waste is abundant in today’s world but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take the next week to observe your personal food waste, notice what habits you want to change, and start taking action. Help educate your family, friends, and coworkers, and together we can begin reducing the global food waste.