Food Waste and Climate Change
Earth Day, every April 22nd, is an annual event since 1970 to celebrate our earth and drive action on the environment and climate crisis. So what does the amount of food you eat and don’t eat have to do with Earth Day?
Food Waste, defined as quality food that’s not eaten and generally thrown out, is a major contributor to climate change. According to the USDA, Americans toss 30-40% of unwanted, quality, good -to-eat food every year! That’s 20 pounds of food per person every month!
According to the EPA, “Research indicates that 40% of all food in America is wasted, yet one in eight Americans does not have enough access to affordable, nutritious food.”
The United Nations reports one-third of all food produced globally ends up as trash before it even gets to a table. When food goes to landfills and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. This wasted food is actually harming our earth.
So what can you do this Earth Day and everyday to avoid food waste and save Earth? Below are some powerful ideas.
1. THINK UGLY IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL
Misshapen veggies and fruits are full of nutrients and fiber. Buy them! Stores often 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 frozen and used later for juice, smoothies, and in baking. 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
When I prep veggies, I save the scraps and ends in a bag and freeze until I have enough to make stock. Not only does this waste 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 our planet and animal life.
Before heading out to the grocery store or ordering online, take a look at what’s in your refrigerator and buy only what you really need. Then make a list and shop only that list to minimize impulse purchases and food waste later on
4. GROW A GARDEN
Most gardeners grow more than they can eat. If that’s you, learn how to preserve homegrown fruits and veggies with freezing and canning methods. Consider sharing some of your bounty with friends and neighbors. 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 regularly do to protect the planet? Share in the comments section.