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Food for Naught: Sustainability Starts in the Kitchen

Rachel Strunk

Posted on March 29, 2021 20:17

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Food waste is a massive problem in the United States, but we as consumers have a lot of power to reduce food waste with both environmental and financial benefits to us.

As we go through life, we hear it more and more: The planet is dying, the oceans are rising, climate change will be irreversible by 2050. We often ask ourselves what we as consumers can do to reduce our contribution to this growing problem. To examine our personal impact on the planet, we have to start by analyzing and changing our behaviors in the kitchen. 

There are a number of wasteful habits that we have in the kitchen, from single use plastics to paper towels, but a huge and easily reduced way that we waste in the kitchen is with food waste. There is an estimated “31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels” according to the USDA's website. 

This means that we as consumers have a lot of involvement in how much food is wasted. To reduce your personal food waste, the first step is to have a plan for what you want to cook in the period between your trips to the grocery store before you start shopping. If you don’t know what you’re going to make with the ingredients you purchase before you purchase them, they are more likely to end up unused and spoiled in the back of your fridge. 

In addition to having a clear plan for all or most of the perishable goods that you are buying each week, make a list of the items that you are going to buy. It’s much easier to get sidetracked by impulse buys when you don’t have a grocery list in front of you.

There is nothing wrong with changing your plan, like replacing one vegetable on your list with another because it was on sale, but before you purchase a sale item, be sure that you know what you want to do with it, or it may go to waste. 

If you still have trouble sticking to your list when shopping in person, see if your local grocery store has an online shopping option with pickup, which can save you time, reduce your food waste, and even save you money by helping prevent you from buying impulse items. 

Finally, make sure your fridge, pantry, and kitchen are clean and organized to keep food from getting lost or pushed to the back where you might not notice it until it starts to smell or you finally eat away at whatever was in front of it. Keep tabs on which foods are where, and have a sense of when they will go bad. There may be times where you have to change your original meal plan to use some items before they expire, and keeping organized food storage will make it much easier to do so.

Consumer food waste is not the only source of food waste, and it’s far from the only negative environmental impact coming from our household, but it is an easy thing to reduce, which will save you money, and help you do your part to save the planet.

 

Rachel Strunk

Posted on March 29, 2021 20:17

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