America, along with the rest of the world, has a food crisis on its hands. While there is plenty of food at stores and in the refrigerators and pantries of most homes, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says that 1 in 8 Americans cannot get enough to eat. And sadly, the NRDC reports that 40 percent of food in America is never eaten and goes to waste.
The average US household can waste anywhere between $1,365 to $2,275 worth of food every year. This epidemic of food waste is not prevalent in the US alone. Globally, 33% of food is thrown away on a yearly basis, totaling 1.3 billion tons of wasted food.
When an apple rots or leftovers are forgotten about and tossed out weeks later, these edibles are not the only resource lost. The water that was used to grow and produce the food, the energy used to transport it to market and the dollars spent marketing and retailing the products also end up wasted.
The good news is that anyone can make a few simple lifestyle changes to help reduce global food waste.
1. Stop Buying in Bulk – Instead of stocking up on perishable foods in amounts that could feed a family for two weeks, just shop for what you need for the meals you have planned for the week. Otherwise you are likely to forget what you bought in the back of the fridge.
2. Plan Meals in Advance – Create a meal plan for the week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Only purchase the food items you need for those particular meals. If you have a sudden craving during the week you can make a separate trip. If going to the store again sounds like too much work then you did not really need that additional food item in the first place!
3. Practice Good Portion Control – Many recipes yield 6-8 servings. If you are only feeding yourself or have a smaller family, learn how to reduce recipes so you are not left with more food than you can reasonably consume.
4. Invest in Smart Appliances – Technology is playing a huge role now in helping reduce food waste in the home. Some new refrigerators let you look inside them to check what supplies you are out of when you are not at home. If a new fridge is a bit out of you price range, there are solutions to make your existing refrigerators ‘smarter’. The Smarter FridgeCam is a retrofit device that can keep track of your food contents wherever you are via your smartphone. FridgeCam will also alert you to upcoming expiration dates and recommend recipes so you can use up what you have. These types of devices can also help you from over-purchasing certain items that you already bought.
5. Put Your Freezer to Use – Spot check your refrigerator every few days for produce or leftovers that are getting close to spoiling. Before they reach the point of no return, if you will not eat them in the next day, put them in the freezer.
6. Only Grocery Shop After a Meal and Have a List – Two sure ways to end up wasting food are to shop hungry and shop without a plan. Impulse purchases end up not creating full meals leading you to make additional trips to the store.
7. Grow and Prepare Meals at Home – Many food items can easily be grown at home on a kitchen counter or a backyard garden. If a recipe calls for fresh herbs you can avoid having to toss out the extra by having your own plants. And you will be less likely to let food go to waste when you have invested your own time and effort into growing it.