FOOD WASTE/COMIDA

Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food (EPA)

  • Saves money from buying less food.

  • Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.

  • Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).

  • Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.

 

*EPA estimates that in 2018, about 68 % of the wasted food we generated (or about 42.8 million tons) ended up in landfills or combustion facilities.

 

*Food that ends up at the landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas  more potent than carbon dioxide (EPA.gov)

 

*14% of freshwater and 18% of cropland is used to grow food that is never eaten (ReFED.com)

 

*Food waste comprises 24% of landfill inputs where it produces 4%  of the United States' GHG emissions (ReFED.com)

 

*The rotting food in landfills produces  of the United States’ methane emissions. (EPA.gov)

 

*The way factory farmed animals are fed and their manure dealt with account for an astonishing 36%  of the United States' methane emissions (EPA.gov)

*According to the World Wildlife Federation, the production of wasted food in the United States is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars

 

 

What can you do?

 

Tips for consumers (WWF) & (EPA)

 

Planning Tips

Going to the store without a plan or on an empty stomach can lead to buying more than we need. By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all. 

  • Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.

  • Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?

  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.

  • Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.

  • Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.

  • Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.

 

 

 

Storage Tips

It is easy to overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.

  • Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.

  • Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.

  • Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.

  • If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.

  • While there are plenty of benefits to eating fresh food, frozen foods can be just as nutritious. They also stay edible for much longer. A lot of seafood, for example, is frozen before it reaches your supermarket and then thawed and put on display. That means it will only stay fresh for a few days. By buying frozen seafood, you can extend the shelf life of the product considerably. Cooking and freezing food—especially produce—before it goes bad is a great way to avoid having to toss it.

 

Prep Tips

Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals or snacks later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.

  • Be creative with leftovers. Before you shop, use the food you already have. Websites like Big OvenSupercook, and MyFridgeFood, allow you to search for recipes based on ingredients already in your kitchen. You can also download the apps like Epicurious and Allrecipes to make the most of what's in your fridge and pantry.

  • When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.

  • Befriend your freezer and visit it often. For example:

    • Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.

    • Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.

    • Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month.

    • For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.

  • Blend, bake, or boil. Fruits and vegetables that are beyond ripe may not look pretty, but that doesn't mean they can't still taste delicious in recipes. Try using your wilting, browning, or imperfect produce to make sweet smoothies, bread, jams, sauces, or soup stocks.

 

Thriftiness Tips

Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.

  • Shop in your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.

  • Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.

  • If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons, beet tops can be sautéed for a delicious side dish, and vegetable scraps can be made into stock.

  • Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates. (See link below)

  • Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Plan an “eat the leftovers” night each week.

  • Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers too. See list of websites above that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.

  • At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for or to make your next meal.

  • At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.

 

Talk it up. Preventing food waste is the most effective way to shrink its impact on the planet. If we avoid producing food that we don't eat, we can save the land, water, and energy that would have been used to make it. And awareness is a good first step; according to ReFED, educating consumers about food waste could prevent 7.41 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Links for more info:

https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

 

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/food-product-dating(Explanation of “Food Product dating”, e.g. “Best if used by”)

 

ReFED.com – (A national nonprofit dedicated to ending food waste across the food system)

 

https://ourworldindata.org/food-waste-emissions  (make the knowledge on the big problems accessible and understandable.)

 

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases#methane  (Greenhouse Gas emissions)