In my house, the #1 way most food is wasted is from my picky 2-year-old throwing food on floor when he doesn’t like it. A challenge I face daily is finding the balance between offering new foods and foods I know he’ll eat. All in effort to reduce food waste.
The second most common way household food is wasted is from tossing fruits and veggies that have either gotten moldy or lost their natural moisture. I admit—I’m guilty of this too! At first glance I assume wilted veggies are no good so I toss them without a second thought. Leading to more unnecessary food waste.
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According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), about $160 billion worth of food is wasted in the U.S. each year.
In order to reduce my footprint and create a better world for my son, I have committed myself to making greater effort toward reducing food waste in my daily life.
How is Food Wasted?
The USDA’s Economic Research Service defines food loss as the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason. This includes food wasted from cooking, shrinkage, mold growth, pests, and inadequate climate control.
What is the Food Waste Challenge?
In 2013, the USDA and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, calling on entities across the food chain—farms, agriculture processors, food manufactures, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and local government to join efforts to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.
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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste:
Below are 5 ways I’ve committed myself to join and practice the Food Waste Challenge. If you’re able and willing, start with just a couple and work your way up to practicing all 5.
Reduce Food Waste-
Use wilted vegetables in soups, stir fry meals, smoothies, and juices. As long as there is no mold, wilted vegetables can still be used in most stovetop cooking as well as crockpot recipes. My husband loves this kind of cooking—he calls it “clean out the refrigerator dinner”!
Recover Food Waste-
Donate uneaten, wholesome foods to food banks and pantries instead of letting it be sent to landfills. While monetary donations to food banks are always welcome and appreciated, in efforts to reduce food waste, you can easily do a web search for local food banks and drop off uneaten foods. We at From Under a Palm Tree like to work with The Volunteer Way– a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping those in need.
Apps like Instacart make shopping easy by getting food delivered right to your door from local stores. Online shopping helps me reduce impulse buys that I really don’t need, which in turn helps me reduce food waste. It also saves me time and money when I can choose same day delivery– guaranteeing my food is fresh and ready to eat. Also check out Prime Pantry on Amazon. Prime members can shop for groceries and household items with a delivery fee of $5.99 per box.
Connect With Your Food-
Learn to grow your own fruits and vegetables. It will give you a sense of accomplishment and also make you feel more attached to your crop in a way that may make you less likely to waste it. Get your kids involved too–it will give them a better understanding of where food comes from. If you don’t have yard space to spare, try a container garden. Learn more here.
Save and Eat Leftovers-
This is a tough one for a lot of families but eating leftover meals is a great way to reduce food waste. Store leftovers in glass containers to reduce toxins and to prevent landfill overgrowth. You can freeze leftovers in an air-tight glass containers for up to 3 months.
Join the U.S. Food Waste Challenge by completing the forms below or join via participation in the EPA Food Recovery Challenge.
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How common is food waste in your household? What practices have you committed yourself to in order to reduce food waste? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
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