Food makes up a substantial amount of our trash that ends up in landfills, between 30-40 percent of the food supply in the U.S., to be precise. Change your shopping, and cooking routines to reduce food waste and your carbon footprint. Read on to find out how you can help!
1. Assess your food waste by keeping a journal.
For at least a week, write down every food and food-related item that goes in the garbage. This includes packaging, eggshells, plastic wrap, discarded leftovers, and twist ties. Knowing where your waste comes from will help you identify where to cut down when you go shopping.
2. Make a weekly meal plan…
… and organize it so you are eating the most perishable food earlier in the week. Use your waste journal as a reference! Then, write a detailed grocery list, with items as well as amounts you actually need. This will prevent you from over-buying, all while saving you some money in the process.
3. Learn how to determine ripeness.
To buy avocados for a week, you’ll want to get them at different stages of readiness—some to eat right away and others that will become ripe in a day or two, or preserved until later in the week. In this helpful video, you’ll see how darker green avocados that give slightly when squeezed are ready to eat right away, whereas lighter green avocados that feel hard to the touch will be ready to eat in about two to four days. If you find that you have some vegetables and fruits, such as avocados, that ripen faster than you can use them, our recipe section has lots of tasty last-minute ideas.
4. Don’t be picky about how your produce looks.
A great deal of the food wasted in our system is due to “imperfect” pieces of fruit and vegetables that get discarded. While there’s nothing wrong with the taste of these items, they still end up in landfills. Beat the stigma by choosing some less ideal-looking produce. After all, you determine fruit and veggie ripeness by touch, hue, and smell (not odd shape, imperfections, or unconventional size).
5. Store your food to reduce food waste.
Make sure your fridge is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep track of food expiration dates, and store fruits and vegetables so that the gases they give off don’t ripen other produce prematurely. To keep avocados from ripening too quickly, store them in the fridge for up to five days! This video tells you all about it.
6. Use as much of your food as possible…
… including scraps and leftovers. Give them a second chance to shine in soups, stews, curries, stir fries, casseroles, pancakes or fritters, loaves or muffins. You can also preserve leftovers, and seasonal fruit in the freezer for later use. Remember: most produce can be dried, canned, pickled, frozen or fermented with the right equipment. Get creative, and the earth will thank you!