What a Waste! Let’s Go Further With Food
Up to 40 percent of food is wasted in the United States, and a majority of that waste is produce. No wonder we think eating healthy is so expensive.
The average family could save up to $2,200 a year utilizing the 10 tips below. In case you are questioning if you really need to read on, one of the top reasons we do so poorly with food waste is that 80 percent of us think we produce less waste than average. So, yes, we can all take these steps to help waste less:
- Plan menus. Not only can menu planning improve the nutrition quality of our meals, it can also help cut our food budget. Walking into the store with a list reduces impulse buying.
- Portion your protein. Producing meat and seafood is tougher on the environment. Plan for 4-6 ounce meat portions per person/serving, and consider adding a vegetarian night to the menu.
- Buy in-season. Produce shipped from across the globe is not only harder on your wallet this time of year, but also on the environment. I know it’s still a few months away, but load up at the farmers markets in the spring to help stock the freezer for the winter months.
- Sip smart. Beverages have significant impacts on our health and waistline, and the bottles and cans they come in have a significant impact on the environment. Recycle whenever possible, but better yet, kick the bottled-beverage habit. Stick to water, coffee or tea in a reusable cup.
- Packaging matters. The less packaging, the better so avoid items that have two or three layers of plastic and paper to get to the food. Try to find products packaged in recycled or renewable materials, like paperboard, instead of plastics and Styrofoam.
- Go for whole. Some of the healthiest whole foods are also the most sustainable. Make sure to include whole grains like brown rice, dried beans and barley. Fruits and vegetables, especially those found at the farmers markets or through local community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are nutrient rich, eco-bargains.
- Pass the processed foods. Processed foods hurt our health and our environment. They are usually much higher in sodium and sugar, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease. In addition, the long list of international ingredients and multiple manufacturing steps for the food and its packaging usually lead to a much larger carbon footprint.
- Bring it home in style. Invest in the cute canvas bags to tote your groceries home. They almost guarantee that you will never again hear the sound of shattering glass on your garage floor. Because like it or not, plastic and paper bags will fail. If that’s not an option, make sure to recycle your plastic bags. It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic grocery bag to break down in a landfill.
- Store foods properly. Food purchased earlier or with earlier expiration dates should be stored toward the front so they get used sooner. Always follow storage directions on the packaging. When it comes to produce there is no shortage of tips to improve life span.
- Think before you toss. Two-thirds of residential food waste is still edible, so consider if something more worthwhile can be done with your scraps before you toss them in the garbage. For example, if you are cleaning out cupboards because you are starting a new weight-loss program, perhaps donate to the food bank or soup kitchen. Can your four-day-old leftovers be used to feed animals? Do you have any agriculturally invested family or friends that would compost your food scraps for you? Make the landfill the last resort.