Food Waste

Food Waste

The FDA estimates that Americans waste between 30% and 40% of their food. Most of this wasted food ends up in landfills, where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.  At the same time, 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table. These jarring statistics have spurred many of us into action to try and combat food waste. But where do you start? We know it can feel overwhelming, but here are some tips for lowering food waste in your home, business, or place of work.

  • Plan it out. Whether you are feeding countless patrons in a restaurant, hosting a business gathering, or feeding your family, thinking ahead is key. Determine how much food you will need before you do the purchasing. This leads to less food perishing. 
    • Calculating this can be hard! Consider using a simple portion planner if you are having trouble. There are many variations available online. Love Food Hate Waste has a great one
    • Additionally, Save the Food has a Guest-imator that was designed for planning holiday meals this upcoming season! 
  • Get familiar with your food and where it should live. Different areas of your fridge are designed to have different temperatures and levels of humidity in order to store your food in the ideal climate to prolong freshness. Some perishables such as fruit actually last longer outside of the fridge. Getting to know the best way to store your food ensures it stays fresh as long as possible. Check our resources like Food Revolution Network’s guide on How to Store Produce
  • What about those confusing labels? “Best by”, “Sell By”, “Enjoy by”– there are so many different date labels it could make your head spin. Oftentimes, these dates have nothing to do with science! This means that you may be tossing perfectly safe food. 
  • Break your habits. Many of us have learned food habits. Perhaps that means not eating the crust of PB&Js, or the skin of fruits. Challenge yourself to make small changes to use more of your food and waste less. Maybe learn some new recipes and shake up the way you prepare food! Try something crazy like this recipe for banana peel bacon
  • If You Can’t Reduce Wasted Food, Divert It From Landfills. If you are hosting a large gathering or company event and end up with too much food, consider donating it to the local food bank or homeless shelter in your area. You can also compost food scraps rather than throw them away.
  • For the office. If you want to take a deep dive into what can be done in the office and to assist with behavior change, take a look at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Waste Toolkit for the Office.

In addition to stopping food waste in your home or business, you can also support and participate in food recovery efforts. Diverting food waste from landfills is crucial to preventing greenhouse gas emissions. Up and down the state, countless organizations are doing their part to mitigate the impacts of food waste while redistributing quality food to those who need it. Did you know that 1 in 8 Americans can be categorized as food insecure? This means that over 12% of Americans have inconsistent access to food and are not always certain where their next meal will come from. Check out organizations like Feeding America, the Food Recovery Network, and many more that all play an important role in diverting food to those who need it. 

You can also combat the environmental impacts of food waste by supporting local governments in their efforts to implement curbside composting in new areas, and continue to grow the programs and improve implementation where it already exists. 

Happy holidays!