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Monday, November 8, 2010

Waste Not...

I have to pass along a link to a must-read article from the New York Times.  It's titled "From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can" and it's about how much of the food we buy goes to waste. 

You can read the article, but just a few statistics that are amazing and alarming:
  • It's estimated that about 25% of the food produced in this country goes to waste--in the field, in transport, in the grocery store or at home.
  • A recent study shows that about 40% of this waste takes place at home.
  • In another study, 93% of the respondents said that they bought food that they never use.
  • If a family of four wastes 25% of the food they buy each week (at a cost of about $175), it means that they throw away over $40 worth of food each week.  That comes to about $2275 per year.  That's a lot of money.
  • Food waste makes up an estimated 19% of landfills in this country.  The food then rots, creating methane (a greenhouse gas) and hurts the environment.
As I jump on my soap box, I have to say that this is ridiculous!  Think of the amount of energy and time it takes to raise this food.  Think of the people all around the world who are dying of hunger.  We complain about the cost of food and then literally throw away a quarter of it.

How can we change our course?  The article mentions a lot of good ideas.  Here are some that they mention and some of my own:
  • Freeze meats that you aren't going to eat in a few days.
  • Don't be afraid of brown spots or blemishes on fruits and vegetables.  Most of them can be easily cut off, leaving the rest fine to eat.
  • Make soup--find a good basic recipe and use those carrots, onions, celery and whatever else is just past its prime.  They'll give whatever flavor they have left instead of being thrown away.
  • Plan your meals--buy just what you need to make those meals for the week.  Don't feel like you have to fill your fridge or buy something just because it's on sale.
  • Buy local.  Foods that are fresher, last longer.
  • Compost.  For those things that do get thrown away, at least use it to help your garden grow and renew the environment.
  • At the risk of tooting my own horn, get a personal chef to make your meals.  I buy just what is needed to make the meals I've planned.  I use fresh ingredients immediately after I buy them.  Very little wasted food = very little wasted money. 
This is a very serious problem, but one that we can all help to alleviate if we just use our heads.

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