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Stop Wasting: Save food, money, and the world

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Statistics show that in America alone nearly 40% of the food produced every year is wasted. Of that, 60% of the waste is made by us, the consumers. We’re all guilty of food waste. We buy too much, don’t eat our leftovers, and throw away those apples we meant to eat, but now are bruised. Although innocent in nature, our food waste has serious economical and environmental consequences.

Every American wastes roughly 1400 calories of food a day, adding up to 150 trillion calories wasted a year. With all those calories, we could feed 2 billion people for an entire year. If Americans could cut back on their waste, and distributers looked into food donation rather than throwing away what they can’t sell, America would have enough food produced to have no family go hungry.

When we throw away food, where does it go? It ends up in the land fills, with the rest of our waste. The rotting food in landfills accounts for the majority of man’s contribution to methane in the atmosphere. Methane is 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Even when you compost your waste the decomposing compost is giving off the toxic gas.

So, how can you waste less? It’s easier than you think. Start by planning out your meals before you go grocery shopping. Once you have, make a detailed list to shop with and follow it! If less “unexpected” food purchases are made, not only will you save money, but you will save substantial waste. Consider shopping for only a couple meals at a time. More frequent shopping trips, with small amounts bought at a time will stop overbuying and save money and waste.

The next way to prevent food waste is to tidy up your refrigerator. Too often food ends up getting thrown away because it got lost in the chaos. Try keeping your fridge less stocked to keep it tidier. It will stop items from being pushed to the back.

Don’t throw away food just because it reaches it’s “best by” date. These dates are put on products to maintain distribution quality controls. Make sure to test the food before you throw it out: smell it, look at it, and taste it. In most cases, if it looks and tastes good, it is good.

Another way to keep food good for longer periods of time is by making sure your refrigerator is up to temperature. It should be kept around 40 degrees. This will prolong the life of your produce, and especially dairy goods. Another idea for cooling down your food is putting that extra loaf of bread or quart of milk in the freezer. It will more than double the life expectancy of your items.

Lastly, when you have leftovers…make sure to eat them! We always make meals larger than needed and put the remains in the fridge. Freeze large amounts. Spice up your leftovers by using them in different mixes. Make a fancy pizza with your leftover chicken parmesan. Make burritos with the extra broccoli and steak. By changing up the menu, your leftovers will have new life, and won’t end up in the trash.

Long Island Green Living Articles > Stop Wasting: Save food, money, and the world

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