Less Food Waste in 2020

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food waste refers to the “decrease in the quantity or quality of food resulting from decisions and actions by retailers, food service providers, and consumers.” This could mean food that was thrown out at the grocery store because it passed the “best by” or “sell by” date or because it was no longer the optimal color, size, shape, etc. Also, food disposed of in our home kitchens can be considered food waste when the leftovers are not consumed or stored properly and spoil.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that in 2010 the total amount of food loss or waste was 133 billion pounds equaling almost $162 billion. The USDA has set a goal to reduce the amount of food waste and loss by 50% by the year 2030.

As individuals we can make a big impact just by adjusting a few things thing in our daily routine. Here are a few tips to reduce our food waste:

  1. Plan out your meals before you go to the grocery store and buy only what you need.
    1. A lot of food is thrown out because we have good intentions for it, but life gets busy and plans change. Before you know it, that bag of spinach has gone bad again before you can make salads.
  2. Check the temperatures of your refrigerator and freezer using a thermometer.
    1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that refrigerators be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for optimal food storage and freshness. The freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Visit the FDA website for more information on food storage.
  3. Write yourself reminders on a note on your fridge or in your pantry so you know what you have and when you need to use food products.
    1. Reminders on your phone could also be helpful to know when your food will expire or when to use it before it spoils.
  4. Organize your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer based on foods that need to be used first.
    1. Often foods get pushed to the back of our fridge and we forget about them. Placing these foods at the front of the fridge is an easy reminder to use them first.
  5. Freeze your extras.
    1. Utilize your freezer to freeze leftover fruits and vegetables for smoothies or to use at a later time. Don’t be afraid to freeze leftovers as well to enjoy at a later date. A good tip would be to write on the container what the leftovers are and when you put them in the freezer.
    1. Composting has become a lot more popular and therefore a lot easier in recent years. Now composting has been made accessible to any living situation whether you have a house with a yard or you rent an apartment or smaller home.

For more information on how you can waste less food in the new year visit MyPlate’s website, go to the Resources tab, and click on “food waste.” This will provide more in-depth information on some of the tips mentioned.