15 easy ways to reduce food waste
About a third of the planet’s food doesn't get consumed, here's how you can help stem the tide from farm to landfill.
It appears that food waste is having its moment, not only in terms of its rampancy, but in the mainstream media attention that it’s receiving. And from campaigns imploring us to love the ugly vegetables to supermarkets dedicated to selling surplus food, people seem to be understanding that the time to tackle the issue has come.
Why is it such a big issue? I’ll tell you in mommy-lecture style (to be read in guilt-inspiring mom voice): 800 million people globally suffer from hunger; meanwhile, we trash enough food (2.9 trillion pounds a year) to feed every one of them twice over. This is why you should stop complaining and eat your vegetables.
The statistics above are from National Geographic magazine, the March cover story of which addresses the topic of food waste. In it Elizabeth Royte writes of the moral issue of taming our wasteful practices, as well as pointing out the environmental toll created by producing food that no one eats. Amongst some other truly mind-boggling numbers, she notes that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gas in the world, after China and the United States. Growing the 133 billion pounds of food in the U.S. that markets and people throw away annually uses the equivalent of more than 70 times the amount of oil that was lost in the Gulf of Mexico’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. Oy.
“On a planet of finite resources, with the expectation of at least two billion more residents by 2050, this profligacy is obscene.” - Tristam Stuart, "Uncovering the Global Food Scandal"
Anyway, enough with the gloom and doom and more on how we as consumers can make a difference. National Geographic includes these tips on how we can help reduce food waste. TreeHugger has covered most of these topics in various posts, but it's nice to see a collection of tips all in one place.
When shoppingMake careful decisions about what and how much you buy at the grocery store.
• Shop at stores that offer misshapen food at a discount.
• Purchase prepared meals at the deli or salad bar, which allows supermarkets to make use of imperfect produce.
• Buy frozen foods, which suffer fewer losses from farm to shelf.
• Shop often. Start with a large trip and then make smaller follow-ups to buy a few days’ worth of produce at a time.
• Buy fresh food at local farmers markets.
When eating outAmericans spend about as much at restaurants as they do at grocery stores.
• Skip the cafeteria tray. Diners who use trays waste 32 percent more than those who carry their plates in their hands.
• Take home leftovers.
• Share side dishes to keep portions under control.
• Ask the waiter to hold extras such as bread and butter you don’t plan to eat.
• Encourage restaurants and caterers to donate leftovers.
At homeSmall changes in the kitchen can reduce the amount of food a household throws out.
• Use FoodKeeper or other apps for food-expiration reminders.
• Switch to smaller dishes to control portions. The standard plate is 36 percent larger than it was 50 years ago.
• Eat leftovers on a regular night each week.
• Give uneaten food a second chance. Freeze or can extras. Blend bruised fruit into smoothies.
• Try not to waste water-intensive foods like meat.
You can read the whole National Geographic article here; it's really good: How ‘Ugly’ Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Solve World Hunger