Waste Not, Save More
Up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten. The food that gets thrown out during production, processing, retail, or consumption is food waste. Maybe it's the weird-shaped tomato that a farmer can't sell or bananas pulled from the store shelf when they have too many brown spots or those leftovers you didn't quite get to. It's all food waste.
So what? Well, we waste almost half the food we have in this country, and 1 in 8 people in America are hungry. Food waste in landfills makes methane, contributing a large portion of the greenhouse gases that are released. Food waste is a huge issue because lost food may be put back into the food supply chain or put to another productive use instead of being discarded. While there are policies and practices that the food industry and government can implement to reduce waste, food waste reduction can start at home.
Meal planning and better food storage practices can help you save food and money. By planning your meals before the week begins, you can make a shopping list that only includes the items that you will be eating during the week. The Kitchn's Beginners Guide to Meal Planning is a good place to start. Almost anything can be frozen, and contrary to popular belief, freezing food does not significantly alter its nutritional value. Save the Food is a great resource for food preparation, storage and sharing.
Composting can help keep food waste out of your household trash and you don't need fancy gear to start; even apartment dwellers can compost. Some cities have community-based programs, but you don't need a large-scale operation to participate. If you're motivated, you can start small and spearhead a composting program on your block. Each year, E.A.T. South hosts composting workshops, and you're welcome to stop by and see our compost system. Check out the EPA's site for more compost information.
If your garden is really growing (or you're drowning in zucchinis), check on the Montgomery Area Food Bank's Plant-a-Row Program. Gardeners, community gardens, farmers and farmers markets can make sure that surplus or left over produce gets to people who would really appreciate that vine ripened tomato.
This article is brought to you by Montgomery Roots, E.A.T. South's program focused on policies and practices that can change the way food travels from the ground to our plates.