In the U.S., we waste around 40 percent of all edible food. A large portion of that waste is caused by consumers. The average American throws away over $40 in the form of 33 pounds of food each month. If we wasted just 5 percent less food, it would be enough to feed 4 million Americans; 20 percent less waste would feed 25 million people.
Feeding the planet is already a struggle, and will only become more difficult with 9-10 billion people expected on the planet in 2050. This makes food conservation all the more important. The United Nations has predicted that we’ll need up to 70 percent more food to feed that projected population. Developing habits to save food now could dramatically reduce the need for increased food production in the future.
Follow these tips to keep your food bill and “food-print” down at the same time:
Shop Wisely—Plan meals, use shopping lists, buy from bulk bins, and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items. Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.
Buy Funny Fruit—Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.
Learn When Food Goes Bad—“Sell-by” and “use-by” dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. Rather, they are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality. Most foods can be safely consumed well after their use-by dates.
Mine Your Fridge—Websites such as www.lovefoodhatewaste.com can help you get creative with recipes to use up anything that might go bad soon.
Use Your Freezer—Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.
Request Smaller Portions—Restaurants will often provide half-portions upon request at reduced prices.
Eat Leftovers—Ask your restaurant to pack up your extras so you can eat them later. Freeze them if you don’t want to eat immediately. Only about half of Americans take leftovers home from restaurants.
Compost—Composting food scraps can reduce their climate impact while also recycling their nutrients. Food makes up almost 13 percent of the U.S. waste stream, but a much higher percent of landfill-caused methane.
Donate—Non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food can be donated to local food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters. Local and national programs frequently offer free pick-up and provide reusable containers to donors.