My recent post about composting got me wondering how much of the trash in landfills is comprised of food waste. Well, according to the Department of Agriculture, it’s approximately 100 billion pounds every year. The average household alone ends up throwing out 14 percent of their food purchases. It’s pretty shocking. Many people assume that food waste is not a big deal because it is biodegradable, but a single carrot can take up to 40 years to fully break down. An even bigger issue is the methane (a greenhouse gas) that is released from rotting food. Our households are not the only source of food waste; it comes from farms, supermarkets, restaurants – check out this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about of the cycle of food waste. However, there are some easy things we can all do to reduce the amount of food that we personally throw away. Since the life of most of your food usually begins and ends in the refrigerator, it’s important to take a closer look at our kitchen’s most used appliance.
- Check the temperature settings. Food should be refrigerated at 39 degrees, frozen at zero; warmer than that will encourage your food to go bad sooner.
- Keep it neat and organized! A messy fridge makes it difficult to see what you have and easy to over look leftovers. Store them and very perishable items at eye level in clear containers so you see them at first glance. Try to always keep condiments and sauces in the same location so you don’t end up with multiple, half empty bottles.
- Freeze large quantities in single servings in freezer safe bags or containers and label them with the date and contents. If you really love organization, you can print these pretty labels from Martha Stewart on adhesive back paper. Since most recipes only call for a small amount of stock or broth at a time, freezing the leftover portion in ice cubes trays (then transferring to freezer bags) is a great way to avoid waste and save money – organic, free range chicken stock is not cheap!
Try those easy tips to reduce the amount of food wasted in your home. And I challenge you to be conscious of all the food you throw out this week. Keep track of which veggies are going bad in the crisper and what goes stale in pantry. Chances are, buying smaller quantities and shopping more often will make a big difference.
Photo by petrr
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