Fresh orange carrots with dirt and green stems

Carrots
Photo source: Heidi Copeland

According to industry standards, some of these carrots could not be sold because of “Serious damage” or  any defect which seriously affects the general appearance of the
carrots in the container. 

Waste less, save money is a great creed to live by.  Really, it is that simple.  One excellent example of this is food. Research indicates that 40% of all food in America is wasted yet, one in eight Americans does not have enough access to affordable, nutritious food. In other words, they are “food insecure.”

Wasted food is a MASSIVE  problem at the commercial, institutional and residential levels. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates there is more food than any other single material in our everyday trash and that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is lost or wasted. In fact, in 2015, the USDA joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set a goal to cut our nation’s food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

The sad fact is, most people do not realize how much impact food and food waste has on the earth and its issues of sustainability. Food waste occurs at every level of involvement. Examples of food waste include growing, processing (by-products too), transporting, point of sale, plate waste and uneaten prepared foods, and kitchen trimmings and their eventual disposal. Preventing food waste at all these levels can make a difference in addressing this issue.

However, preventing food waste it is not as easy as it seems.  Many consumer factors also contribute to the problem.

  • Food date labels confuse people. Use by/sell by dates are not always about food safety but about peak quality.  Many foods are still safe to eat after their dates. Inspect “expired” foods closely via sight and smell before consuming –  find ways to use up food past its prime.
  • Households overbuy – do you really need super sizes? Buying in bulk is not always less expensive if much of it is discarded. Only purchase what you know you will use and do not get lured in by the “more for less” deals.
  • Massive portions are often served – share or learn to love leftovers. Split enormous portions into multiple meals.
  • Grocery stores overstock their shelves to maintain an image of abundance.
  • People demand “perfect” produce.  Farmers have a hard time selling less than stellar items. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are just as delicious and nutritious as their more photogenic counterparts. Places such as farmers’ markets and community gardens are good places to find imperfect produce that would otherwise go to waste.

This Earth Day, (an event first celebrated on April 22, 1970 in the United States and is now a globally coordinated event in more than 193 countries) commit  yourself to taking an action.  As the late Neil Armstrong famously quoted as he stepped on to the moon… “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind!” If each of us considered and implemented our own practical or creative approaches to preventing food from going to waste what would our collective actions mean for mankind?

row of orange carrots with dirt and green stems

Fresh Carrots
Photo Source: Heidi Copeland

The best way to reduce food loss at home is not to create it in the first place.  Not only would we individually save money, our collective efforts could conserve resources for future generations. The best method is the one you use.

  1. Reduce wasted food – shop smart, plan what you purchase, and use it, ALL of it!
  2. Maximize the efficiency of your refrigerator based on science. Read your refrigerator manual to learn where the coldest spots in the refrigerator are and what foods benefit from refrigerator location.
  3. Maximize the efficacy of canned products… use the FIFO (first in first out) method of rotation to use the oldest product before the newest on the shelf.
  4. Donate what you cannot use to others.
  5. Divert food scraps to animal food (chickens anyone?)
  6. Compost
  7. Landfill as the last resort.

Common causes of personal food waste include overbuying, over preparing and spoilage. The basic tenets of sustainability – reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse, work to reduce food waste too! Pay attention to purchases, eat what is prepared, store food properly, and refuse to waste. We can all do our part! Let’s start today.

https://savethefood.com/recipes/