Food waste is a crucial issue that is overlooked by many people. Americans tend to waste almost half of all produce and one-third of all food. Not only does this affect the environment, but it impacts the purchasing and disposal costs of institutions and the nutrition of Americans. Institutions, such as restaurants, schools, and hospitals, waste the most food. I interned with a company that was doing a study on plate waste in elementary and middle schools. It is unbelievable how much food children through away. They are encouraged to take a lunch; however, they throw away the entire lunch, including unopened milk and whole apples. Since we can’t force people to eat the food, it is important to find ways to limit food waste, to save our environment and the nutrition of Americans.
So what can we do to limit food waste?
- Encourage supermarkets, schools, and other institutions to donate extra food. A few years ago, I worked at a grocery store and we threw out all the extra produce that did not meet customer’s standards. This means we threw out tomatoes that were a tad mushy or bananas that were not bright yellow. These items are completely edible and can be used in pasta dishes or banana bread.
- Use the extra food at home in alternate dishes instead of throwing them away. Many people do not enjoy eating browned bananas; however, they are edible and actually more nutritious than bright yellow bananas. You can also use leftover rice in stir fry or fried rice.
- Be realistic about what you actually need when shopping. It is very easy to overestimate how much food you need. Start a meal plan and if you decide you need extra food during the week; you can always go back to the grocery store.
- Store food properly. follow guidelines on where you should store foods. If you are not going to use a certain food store it in the freezer or can it! Pickling is very delicious and nutritious and is a great way to store leftover vegetables.
- Compost! Start a compost pile in your backyard to convert your extra vegetables into dirt for your garden.
- Make the meals more attractive. If you have children, it is sometimes hard to encourage them to eat the more nutritious foods, like vegetables. Remember, we eat with our eyes first, so it may help to make the meal more attractive or appealing to children and even adults.
What are your ideas to limit food waste?