Simple Steps by Consumers Can Curb Food Waste

Published in the NY Times, September 21st, 2016. 

The next time you toss out a burger, imagine taking a 90-minute shower. That’s how much water it took to produce that burger and get it to you.

Wasting food wastes everything. Americans trash more than one-third of our food supply and throw out the equivalent of nearly a quarter of our water supply in the form of uneaten food. Growing and transporting all that food spews out the same amount of carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles. To add insult to injury, food is the single-largest contributor to U.S. landfills.

We, as consumers, are responsible for the largest share of food going to waste — about 40 percent. But that also means we have the power to make a tremendous difference. In fact, at the Natural Resources Defense Council, we launched our Save the Food campaign with the Ad Council and wrote the Waste Free Kitchen Handbook because we believe arming consumers with the right information and inspiration to waste less is our best route to making a dent in this problem. Here are some tips.

1. Curb overbuying. A packed fridge may be comforting, but rarely do we eat everything in it. Using meal plans, shopping lists, and a little restraint can go a long way.

2. Store smartly. Proper storage can maintain food quality and freshness. Use airtight containers for most foods.

3. Use it up. Eat up everything in your fridge regularly. Frittatas, stir-fries, and soups make great catchall recipes. Or just Google a list of what you have for meal ideas. Designating a special day for this can help — Fridge Fridays, perhaps?

4. Freeze. Almost anything can be frozen and kept fresh: bread (best sliced), milk (shake when thawed), eggs (raw but scrambled), and cheese (shredded for cooking). Don’t forget to freeze leftovers, even if just for a few days.

5. Understand expiration dates. “Use by,” “best by,” “enjoy by” — these are generally not expiration dates but suggestions as to when the product is at its freshest. Most food is often safe to eat days, weeks, even months after those dates.

Most of all, do something! We all have a part to play and, no matter how sustainably we grow our food, it’s all for naught if we don’t eat it.


To read the original article – click here. 

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