Fresh on the heels of Food Waste Prevention Week, Stop Food Waste Day, puts the spotlight on practical ways to reduce food waste.
Up to 40% of the food produced in the United States is never eaten and contributes to more than 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do, collectively and individually, to turn the tide of climate change.
Here are tips provided by Resource Recovery Specialist Katelyn Kikstra, from the Kent County Department of Public Works, to get you started:
Shop your kitchen first
- Browse your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator prior to hitting the stores or farmers market to buy ingredients.
- Don’t have something you need for a meal? Get creative by using a substitute you already have on hand.
- Imagine you are on Chopped and challenge yourself to an entirely new meal just from the ingredients you have on hand.
Store your food properly
- Wash it to get rid of mold spores, check you have it stored at the correct temp, with/without water, in ventilated containers, etc. based on each foods’ specifications.
Shop only for food that you have a plan for, not what catches your eye, or you crave only in that moment
- This will save you money and prevent food waste from excess food you don’t “make it to in time.”
- If you can, dedicate a time or a couple times prior to your work week to make the meals you planned and shopped for. That way you will have used a majority of the items you purchased.
Get as much mileage out of your food as you can, even after you’ve consumed it
- Eat those leftovers! Not craving them. That’s fair, put them in the freezer to prevent them from spoiling so you can enjoy them next week or in a few months.
- Find a reuse for food you thought was waste (for example, store veggie scraps and bones in a freezer bag/container for soup stock; stale bread can become delicious croutons or breadcrumbs; orange peels and vinegar is an excellent homemade house cleaning solution; leftover red wine and vinegar makes red wine vinegar; coffee grounds make an invigorating body scrub, etc.).
- Share what you won’t eat or freeze with family, friends, or neighbors to enjoy.
Investigate Sell By, Best By, Use By dates and labels on food products
- They don’t all mean the same thing and often times our built-in investigative tools (our sight – mold or wilted/rotted food, sense of smell – overly ripe or sour, sense of tastes – small tastes funky/sour, overly ripe ) can determine when a food item isn’t fit for consumption anymore and is now food waste, better than some expiration date labels can.
- Learn about what each label means and how to navigate expired items with food waste in mind.
Buy “naked” produce (produce without packaging) for less waste overall
Commit to composting
- You can do this through an exterior or interior vermicompost bin, your backyard, or through drop-off or curbside cart service.
Inspire children to join in by taking take the Food Hero Pledge. Reducing food waste is one of the greatest opportunities for individuals, companies, and communities to contribute to reversing global warming, and at the same time feeding more people, increasing economic benefits, and preserving threatened eco-systems. Learn more about what you can do to prevent food waste at Michigan.gov/FoodWaste.