A large number of New Years resolutions seem to focus on diets and eating healthy — but I’ve been thinking about a different kind of New Year resolve regarding food. This year, I’m reinvigorating my efforts to reduce food waste.
I can think of very few things more detrimental to the earth and the people who inhabit it than wasted food. Food production takes an incredible amount of resources including fossil fuels, land, livestock and labor. Furthermore, if food waste ends up in a landfill it rots anaerobically, creating methane gas. Methane not only smells awful, it’s a greenhouse gas more damaging than carbon dioxide.
It wasn’t very long ago that the idea of “food waste” was unheard of. People used every last bit of food, right down to using an animals bones for broth. Fast forward to today and we’ve been able to grow and distribute food in incredible abundance. Without the necessity to conserve, we’ve become terribly wasteful.
According to the USDA, an estimated 30-40% of the United States food supply is wasted. Often it spoils before it is eaten or is tossed out as uneaten leftovers.
In one week’s time people who intended healthy New Year diets will be pulling bags of brown slime (formerly lettuce) from the backs of fridges and tossing them in the trash.
I recognize that my family is fortunate to have enough food that it can go to waste.
My resolution to reduce food waste is both selfish and altruistic. I’ll be reducing my own grocery bill, but by reducing my own food waste, I can alleviate pressure on the supply chain and will have the opportunity to give more to those who need it.
My strategies to accomplish this goal include:
• Eating the leftovers or finding creative ways to incorporate them into the next evening’s meal. I’ve found this is even more appealing when I have good, high quality storage containers that are easily reheated and dishwasher safe.
• Measuring out portions. Admittedly this is a little bit of a diet in addition to reducing waste because it prevents me from overeating my share. Food is not only wasted in the trash but also wasted when it adds unnecessary pounds to my middle.
• Eating fresh fruits and vegetables quickly before they spoil, or opting to buy frozen or canned instead.
• If food is no longer fit for humans to eat, I do my best to feed it to my chickens which will in turn provide me with eggs. If it’s beyond consumption for even a chicken, it is turned into compost thus feeding my summer vegetable garden.
These all take discipline. Each of these strategies used to be a “duh” moment for people just one or two generations before me. Unfortunately, many of them have fallen out of practice, sacrificed for the sake of convenience.
If you have your own tips or strategies for reducing food waste, I would love to hear them. Send your favorite tips to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirsten Faurie is the editor of the Kanabec County Times. She can be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 320-225-5128.