As we get ready for Thanksgiving and all the food we’re going to eat, let’s take a minute to think about the food that we don’t. Food waste is a huge issue in the US! More than 30% of the food produced in this country is never eaten – over 130 billion pounds of food a year! The majority of this food ends up in landfills, which are the third largest producers of methane in the US. This also means up to $165 billion is wasted each year, not to mention the freshwater, fuel, and chemicals that went into producing that food. But that’s not all! If we were able to redirect just 15% of this food waste, it could feed more than 25 million Americans every year.
There are lots of reasons this food isn’t getting eaten. Losses at every step of the way help account for these staggering numbers. Some of it is produce that is never sold, or even harvested, because of cosmetic reasons. Some is lost when turning whole ingredients into processed foods, stuck to machines like cookie dough in a bowl. Some is accounted for by grocery stores’ tendency to overstock. The list goes on and on. And yes, some is on us, the consumer. Confusion over date labels, poor planning, and bad storage are all ways food gets wasted once it’s made it into our homes.
Here are some ways you can help prevent food from going to waste:
- Stay organized – plan meals and know what’s in your fridge
- Educate yourself about what date labels really mean
- Freeze leftovers that you can’t eat in time
- Buy whole foods, and seek out farmers markets or other retailers that sell “ugly” produce
- Get creative with produce that you might otherwise throw out – what can you do with broccoli stems or beet greens?
- Donate extra food to local food banks
- Compost – if the food can’t be saved, keep it out of the landfill and use the nutrients to help grow more food!
Comment below and let us know what you’re doing to help stop food waste!