Willful Waste, Woeful Want: Ways to Reduce Food Waste & Feed the Hungry

Kea Schwarz
By: Kea Schwarz

There has been an increase in food production in the past half-century that has decreased the proportion of hungry people in the world, even though the population size has doubled. In spite of that, more than one in seven people still do not have access to adequate protein and energy from their diet, and an even greater population of people suffers from some form of micronutrient malnourishment.[1] This is an unfortunate situation, but there is a surprisingly simple strategy that could increase the world food supply, while simultaneously cutting greenhouse emissions and saving money. This is possible through reducing food waste.

In America there is an estimated 70 billion pounds of food wasted every year.[2] Farmers produce more food than we need in America. Those who have easier access to foods, generally are the ones who are more wasteful for various reasons. Farmers play their part by putting in a lot of time to make sure crop yields are at their peak each season. They do their best to reduce the loss between field and fork, but it is up to us as consumers to make conscientious decisions while shopping to reduce the food waste inside our homes.[3] We all need to work together to help those who feel the effects of food insecurity. There’s a lot we can do as individuals in our own homes to reduce food waste and feed the hungry.

fd_reccvry_hierachy_550pxw.jpg

Shop Smart

Prior to going to grocery store make a meal plan for the week or make a store slip. Buy only what you need. It’s also important to be mindful when looking to purchase bulk items as produce, because of the limited shelf life. This way you will save money as well as food that may potentially be thrown away prior to consumption. Also, don’t be afraid to purchase “imperfect” fruits and vegetables. Grocery stores reject 20% of the nation’s produce just because it doesn’t meet aesthetic standards. [4] At the same time, avoid fruits and vegetables that are heavily bruised.

FIFA

Everyone has a few canned goods hiding in the back of their cabinets or spinach that was purchased three weeks ago in the bottom of the fridge drawer. Sometimes food goes bad because of improper storage or poor visibility. It’s a good idea to organize your food to help you become familiar with what is available in your pantry, and ensure you use what you have. A great method of organization is the first in first out system. This is a food rotation system that can greatly reduce spoilage of foods in the pantry and fridge. Eating foods in order of expiration date can greatly reduce the amount of food waste in our homes.[5]

Smaller Portions

Another tip is to consume smaller portions. When eating in a cafeteria ask for a smaller sample. You can always go back for more. Also, try to only make what you think you and your family will consume at home. If you end up with leftover food on your plate, keep the left overs and make sure you actually eat them. Many times we’ll put left overs in the fridge and never get around to eating them, thus they end up in the trash. Another idea would be to do something creative with your left overs. Plan meals using ingredients that are closest to their expiration date. [6]

Composite

There are many ways to compost. This can be done by freezing food scraps and taking them to local farmers markets that collect the scraps for their compost. Another option is composting at home. There are many sources on the internet that can show you how to compost to enhance the growth of the plants in your yard or for your home garden. [7] The EPA website has many links to aid in beginner composting, as well as lists the many benefits that composting has on food waste reduction. A major point is reduction of methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas, in landfills that substantially contributes to climate change.

Donate

Lastly, donating unwanted food can be a great way to reach out to your community. Collect unspoiled, healthy foods and seek out the local food bank or homeless shelter to support the needy in your area.

orphans-411949_640


References:

  1. Godfray C, Beddington J, Crute I, et al. Food security: The challenge of feeding 9 Billion people. Science AAAS. 2010;327(5967):812–818. doi:10.1126/science.1185383. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5967/812.full. Accessed September 12, 2016
  2. FeedingAmerica. Food waste in America. FeedingAmerica. http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/how-we-work/securing-meals/reducing-food-waste.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/. Accessed September 12, 2016.
  3.  Newgent J. Produce from purchase to plate – steps to reduce food waste. Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food/produce-from-purchase-to-plate-steps-to-reduce-food-waste. Accessed September 12, 2016.
  4. Gunders D. Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill. Publisher unknown; August 2012:1–23. https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf. Accessed September 12, 2016
  5. Newgent J. Produce from purchase to plate – steps to reduce food waste. Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food/produce-from-purchase-to-plate-steps-to-reduce-food-waste. Accessed September 12, 2016.
  6. Howard J. Practical tips for making less food waste and feeding hungry people. Food Management. http://food-management.com/healthcare/practical-tips-making-less-food-waste-and-feeding-hungry-people?NL=FM-01&Issue=FM-01_20160819_FM-01_553&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2&utm_rid=CPG06000000008660&utm_campaign=11356&utm_medium=email&elq2=abfd12e69ecc4b6498aa009bf011e2c1. Accessed September 12, 2016.
  7. Newgent J. Produce from purchase to plate – steps to reduce food waste. Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food/produce-from-purchase-to-plate-steps-to-reduce-food-waste. Accessed September 12, 2016.
  8. U.S EPA. Reduce wasted food by feeding hungry people. EPA US Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/reduce-wasted-food-feeding-hungry-people. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s