What’s Food Waste Got to Do With It?

What does the amount of food you eat and don’t eat have to do with Earth Day?

Food Waste is major contributor to climate change. According to the USDA, Americans send 30-40% of unwanted food to landfills every year! That equals 20 pounds of food per person every month. Yes 20 pounds! Not only could this feed the worldwide 8 million plus people that go to bed hungry every night, but this wasted food is actually harming Earth.

Food rotting away in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas. Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists, says, “Globally if food waste could be represented as its own country it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter!

The World Wildlife Federation reports about “10% of all human-caused greenhouse gases are linked to food waste.” And when we waste food we are wasting all the energy used to grow that food including water, farm resources, emissions from cattle, packaging, and transportation from farm to grocery store to name just a few.

So what can you do this Earth Day and everyday to avoid food waste and save Earth? Below are a few tips:

1. THINK UGLY IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL

Those misshapen veggies and fruits are full of nutrients and fiber. Don’t pass them by. Often stores discount this so called ugly produce so not only do you minimize food waste but you save money at the same time!

In fact , bananas are often thrown out as soon as a dark blemish appears on the peel.

But these are the best and sweetest bananas to make banana bread and smoothies. Ugly bananas and other fruit can easily be juiced and frozen for later use.. And ugly veggies are perfect for cutting up and tossing into a stir fry, soup, and chili.

2. USE YOUR SCRAPS

Those peels, scraps and ends of veggies you cut off should not be thrown away. Either add to your compost pile or use to make vegetable stock. Check out my recipe for the best and easiest vegetable stock you will ever make all with scraps!

When I prep veggies, I save the scraps and ends in a bag and freeze until I have enough to make stock. Not only are you wasting less but you also control what goes into your stock, unlike many store bought versions which are full of salt and preservatives.

3. PLAN AHEAD

Minimize food waste by planning meals in advance. On the weekend think about the meals you want to make for the coming week. Plan out ingredients and buy just what you will need to avoid over buying, wasting money and tossing food gone bad that was bought on impulse. And when you have leftovers store in glass containers. Make the switch to glass and cut back on plastic which is harmful in so many ways to Earth and animal life.

4. ORDER WISELY

Most restaurant portions could easily serve 2 or 3 people. Don’t toss what you can’t finish. Take home leftovers and use the next day for an instant lunch.

Before ordering look around at portion sizes and perhaps order an appetizer instead of a main meal which is often smaller but still filling without the potential for waste.

5. GROW A GARDEN

If you are a gardener bravo, but let’s face it, most of us grow more than we can eat. Learn how to preserve homegrown fruits and veggies with freezing and canning methods. Consider sharing some of your bounty with friends and neighbors too. And be sure to compost. It’s one of the best ways of adding nutrients to soil and combating food waste.

5. SHOP LOCALLY AND SEASONALLY

Whenever possible, buy foods in season, from local sources, with minimal packaging and fewer ingredients. Farmers Markets are the best source for the freshest fruits and veggies and your purchases support your local economy . Plus, if you have a question about how the item was grown you can ask the source!

How are you celebrating Earth Day? What do you do regularly to protect the planet?

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