Recently, we blogged about how wasting food wastes energy. That pretty much makes sense, doesn’t it? But information about the extent of food wasted in the U.S. in “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of its Food,” by Jonathan Bloom, is shocking.
Drawing on several studies, Bloom illustrates just how much food we are throwing away and discusses how to prevent food waste. Consider this:
“A family of four that spends $175 a week on groceries squanders more than $40 worth of food each week and $2,275 a year.”
Source: Garbage Project by the University of Arizona.
For those of us on tight budgets, can you imagine what it would be like to have an extra $2200 a year?
So how can we prevent food waste? Bloom discusses a few ideas in “American Wasteland.”
Most food waste in the country occurs at home. People buy too much and stock things away in massive refrigerators, often forgetting that items are even in there. Instead of filling the refrigerator, purchase only what you need for a 3-4 day period to avoid buying more food than you can eat. Plan your meals ahead of time, create detailed shopping lists, and make use of the leftovers right away.
Give up the ideal of “perfect food.” Bloom says that many people cannot tell the difference in quality changes and safety spoilage. You can remove a few leaves of lettuce that have turned brown and enjoy the rest, rather than throwing away the entire head. Cut off spots or bruises on fresh fruit or vegetables.
Check the temperature settings in your fridge and freezer to make sure that food is properly stored and preserved. The interior of your refrigerator should be 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and the freezer should be set to zero. Store vegetables in crisper drawers that have separate humidity controls.
Beyond the wasted income that occurs when we throw food away, there is also the environmental impact. Most food waste ends up in the trash and then to the landfill where it breaks down, releasing methane gas (a greenhouse gas). Compost your food waste and use it to enrich your garden soil, instead.
Next time you go grocery shopping, carefully consider the items you put in your cart. Consider the amount of food waste that may be occurring at your home, and what steps you are taking to prevent food waste.
Your wallet and the planet will thank you!