New Years Resolution: Reduce Your Food Waste
Soy and corn. Pork and poultry. Sweet potatoes.
North Carolina is an agricultural state through and through. In addition to our large and well known commodities, we have an increasingly robust small farm and local foods network. We are in the land of plenty.
But in all this bounty, it is estimated that 40% of food produced in the United States goes to waste. About half of our fruits and vegetables go uneaten each year. Waste is found at all levels of the food economy: from the farmers fields to processing plants to retail stores. Second Harvest works at all levels of this chain to divert food away from landfills and to people’s plates, resulting in nearly 37 tons of food being redistributed every day through our network.
However, many experts say that consumers at home are in fact the largest contributors to food waste. A family of four in the United States speds $1,500 to $1,800 a year on food they don’t eat. And all this waste has serious environmental, social and economic impacts. Because when we waste food, it’s not just about the food product that is wasted… it is also the water, agricultural inputs, energy, packaging, and greenhouse gas emissions that go into growing and transporting the food.
Making reducing food waste your families New Years Resolution can not only help the planet but can also help your pocketbook.
Here are some tips:
1.Shop proportionately. Only purchase the amount of food needed to feed yourself or your group and be realistic. Decide if the bulk deals are really what you need.
2. Store leftovers safely. Freeze your leftovers right after your meal or freeze them up to four days afterwards (if stored in the fridge). Learn more about freezing food here.
3. Eat those leftovers! Make sure your family moves through all the leftovers BEFORE heading to the store again for more food.
4. Create new meals. With a little creativity, leftovers can be combined into new meals so not to get boring. Here are 65 (yes 65!) leftover ideas.
5. Compost. You can turn your vegetable scraps and egg shells into soil and plant new food in it! Or you can donate your compost to a local community garden. Get started here.
6. Donate. If you have unopened canned or dry food leftover you can donate it to Second Harvest Food Bank or to your local food pantry or kitchen. For a full list of our partner agencies in your area, click here.