Imagine carrying four full shopping bags home from the grocery store. When we get home, we immediately toss one into the garbage pail. That’s the equivalent of what we consumers do (commercial establishments often toss up to 40%), at a time when nearly one in six Americans faces hunger, many of them children. Some food gets discarded because “sell by”, “best by”, “use by” dates have expired. These are not government mandates—except for baby formula, the government does not set expiration dates—but rather industry prescribed dates, beyond which nutrients are alleged to decline. Industry uses them as inventory control but also has an interest in having us buy more to replace “obsolete” items. Tossed food wastes all the work that went into getting it, plus the water, fertilizer, transport, storage, and packaging resources, quite apart from the cost to our pocketbooks when we throw away what we have already bought and paid for.
What we can do:
- Check out this site for useful ideas: https://ivaluefood.com/resources/cooking-eating/creative-ways-to-use-leftovers/
- Measure our own food waste: how are we doing? Plan for and buy only what we need, and before tossing, look, smell, and taste. “When in doubt, use your snout.” Much can be determined to be still tasty. Compost non-meat organics or use them for vegetable stocks.
- Savvy consumers look (and ask) for seconds on fruits and vegetables that might be slightly bruised or misshapen. The errant parts can be cut out while our wallets are beefed up.