With the world populations recently reaching 7 billion, the issue of feeding everyone is very serious. Currently we humans spend 24% - 40% of the earth’s photosynthetic output for food and nearly 50% of available fresh water usage goes to food production. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, industrialized countries waste 222 million tons of food annually. To be sustainable, we need to cut out the waste.
Recently I have been working on this issue in my own kitchen. My goal is to buy less food and to not waste the food I buy. I compost all food wastes so that I am not sending any food wastes to the landfill. Here are some steps that I have found useful:
Plan meals before you shop and stick to the menu. Make a detailed grocery list before you go shopping. Buy from your list and avoid impulse shopping.
Before you shop, look in your fridge to see what is left from last week. If you are doing a good job planning, your fridge should be rather empty at this point. If you have leftover food from the week, plan it into the new week’s menus.
Buy bulk rather than packaged so that you buy just what you need. For example, instead of buying a prepackaged bunch of mushrooms, buy them loose in just the amount you need.
We tend to over estimate how much food we should cook. LoveFoodHateWaste.com has a food portions calculator that is handy.
Write down what you are throwing away. This will help you see what and how much you are wasting. You can keep a handy Food Diary at LoveFoodHateWaste.com. This is a great website by the way.
Use leftovers. Plan them into you menus. Smoothies and soup are great ways to get rid of small leftovers.
In the US, we throw out 25% of the food we grow . I have been really working on my own food waste issues for the past two months. I am following the above advice and find it makes a big difference. I also feel that it’s a moral issue. What gives us the right to throw away so much food and resources when there are starving people all over the world? Our parents always told us to eat our supper because there are starving children out there. In my young mind, I would think, “What good does it do for me to eat all my beans? We are not sending the leftovers to some needy child.” Now I know that it means don’t take what you don’t need. Don’t waste resources.
There are some other advantages to not wasting food. You might lose weight especially if you limit your portions. If you have not bought organic foods because of the higher price, you can afford it if you buy less food.