In 1995, one study concluded, Americans threw out about 27% of edible food that year. According to a 2004 study by the University of Arizona, that figure increased to 50%. The waste is mind-boggling. Just think about it: ONE HALF of all the food fit for consumption may get thrown out. Extrapolated out to dollars and cents, the same study concluded that an average family of four throws out $590 worth of meat, fruits, vegetables and grain products alone.
So now that we know the extent of the problem, how do we fix it? According to Lori Bongiorno from The Conscious Consumer, we can implement a step by step plan of attack. Here's the breakdown:
- Plan ahead. Yeah, we've all heard this before, but as Lori suggests it can really cut down on wasted food. I particularly like her suggestion to 'be realistic' about what we have time to prepare in a given week.
- Shop smart. If it's on sale, it doesn't mean you have to buy it, especially if you can't use it up (or freeze it) before it spoils.
- Use up what you buy. Lori provides a BUNCH of links for using up that stuff leftover stuff that generally hits the round bin.
- Freeze before you toss. Lori suggests freezing some things we might not have thought of before such as pancakes and coffee (!).
- Get educated [about 'use by' dates]. Use by or sell by dates don't necessarily mean that the product is unsafe after that date, just not up to its 'peak quality'.
- Think beyond eating. Just because some stuff isn't fit for eating, doesn't mean it can't make a good facial mask. (No kidding!)
- Give to others. Non-perishable items that you know you're not going to consume are welcomed at your local food bank. Lori suggests visiting Feeding America to find a food bank near you.
For more GREAT ideas, helpful links and startling statistics, follow this jump to Yahoo Green.