According to the USDA statistics, Americans waste more than 130 billion pounds of food each year. This food waste goes into landfills, and produces more methane gas into the environment than carbon emissions released from automobiles. This is a serious problem in the US.
As it turns out, most people want to blame food companies and food retailers for food waste, but the facts are quite different. Research and statistics show that the majority of food waste is generated by American households. According to nonprofit organization ReFED, American households contribute far more food waste than food producers and retailers. Yet, most people tend to think of themselves as “caring about the environment” and “practicing sustainable actions.” While it may be true that they care about the environment, it is also true that there is a major disconnect when it comes to the topic of food waste.
Perhaps the biggest question is what can we do to reduce food waste? And is it even possible. I believe it is, because it is actually happening in Denmark. The Danish government recently announced that food waste is 25 percent less than 5 years ago. Translation: the average Dane throws out 104 pounds of food a year, on average, compared to 273 pounds annually for the average American.
Denmark’s anti-waste movement has been led by an organization called Stop Wasting Food, which targets individual consumers and challenges them to waste less food. As consumers became more willing and even proud to purchase day-old bread and imperfect tomatoes, producers and retailers started jumping on the “trend” as well.
Denmark has also turned to technology to help reduce waste. They have a technology that tracks food “from farm to fork,” that enables them to determine bread as a commonly wasted item. By ordering less bread, and selling older bread at a reduced price, they have reduced bread waste by 60 percent.
Practical Tips You Can Implement
Below, you will find some examples of how to curb food waste in your own home.
- Make a weekly large pot of soup, using vegetables that are past their prime. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, etc… Toss them all in a crockpot along with herbs, some olive oil, vinegar and salt. It can be used all week as a meal, by simply adding some protein or as a stock for cooking other menu items.
- Do not throw away overly ripe and mushy bananas. Rather, put them in freezer bags in the freezer. They will last for months in the freezer and are still delicious when added to smoothies, oatmeal, and puddings. By using the bananas, you can cut out other added sugars and increase the overall amount of nutrients you consume.
- One night per week, take out all of the leftovers (cooked vegetables, beans, meat, seafood, etc.) and chop them up fine. Then sauté everything in a skillet before transferring the hash to a plate. Top the hash with a couple of cooked eggs. This is not only a comforting meal, but also highly nutrient dense and healthy for you.
- Roast a large pan of a variety of chopped vegetables drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette to add a nutritious and tasty side dish to dinner. Whatever is left over can them be repurposed as a sauce by pureeing in a blender or food processor. The puree can then serve as a base for marinara sauce or homemade hummus, etc…