In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5th, Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson (co-founders of Food Tank), have constructed 10 ways in which farmers, food manufacturers, and eaters can reduce their food waste footprints. All their suggestions are worth sharing, but please pay close attention to the tips “Request smaller portions” and “Store food properly at home.” These two easy recommendations can be followed by anyone and in the long run will not only help cut your food waste but additionally save you money! Not to mention, requesting smaller portions will aid in your weight loss efforts and help reduce your waistline! This is something Americans need to practice a lot more to win the war on obesity as well as essentially eliminating food waste! I think most of us already do the “Trust the five senses” which is human instinct…anyways I hope it is!
Use “ugly” produce
In Kenya, strict European aesthetic standards force vegetable exporters to waste up to 40 percent of their harvest. Tristram Stuart’s Feeding the 5,000 is urging markets and governments to revise these standards. They are also reviving the practice of gleaning—organizing volunteers to harvest cosmetically imperfect produce for donation to schools and food banks.
Donate unused food throughout the production line
The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) estimates that food waste costs in Italy alone are equivalent to US$13 billion (€10 billion) in the field, US$1.5 billion (€1.2 billion) in processing, and nearly US$2 billion (€1.5 billion) in distribution. Last Minute Market (LMM) works with farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers to reclaim these losses. Founded by BCFN Advisor Andrea Segrè, LMM now runs food donation programs in over 40 Italian communities.
Trust the five senses
Despite what many consumers think, “sell by,” “best by,” and “use by” dates are unregulated and do not indicate food safety. Clarifying these labels, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the U.K., could reduce food waste by up to 20 percent. One of the best ways to tell if food has gone bad is not by using some fancy technology, but by simply putting human senses to work. If food smells bad or looks bad, it’s probably not good to eat.
Request smaller portions
According to NRDC food waste expert Dana Gunders, the average U.S. pizza slice grew 70 percent in calories between 1982 and 2002, and the average chicken Caesar salad doubled in calories. Portion increases are bad for both our waistlines and our waste footprints. New campaigns, such as Go Halfsies and Satisfeito, are promoting half-portions and making it easier for diners to order less.
Invest in on-site preservation and storage
FAO reports that cowpea farmers in Ghana who can afford to store their crops still lose 10, 20, or even 50 percent of their product in a single month. Perdue University’s Perdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) is reducing these losses with cheap, triple-layer plastic bags that protect cowpeas for months without expensive pesticides. The program expects to save farmers at least half a billion dollars per year over all.
Store food properly at home
U.S. families throw away around 25 percent of the food they buy, losing up to US$2,275 every year. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign recommends reducing waste by learning the best ways to store food at home.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that food sent to landfills creates 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions. But composting centers can help turn food waste into a valuable resource. Compost for Brooklyn turned an abandoned lot into a compost site and native plant garden. There, the organization hosts neighborhood events, educational programs, and gardening workshops, while reclaiming up to 350 kilograms (770 pounds) of waste per week.
Improve family farmers’ access to education
The Post Harvest Education Foundation offers training materials, e-learning programs, and mentoring opportunities that help farmers around the world prevent food waste. Their postharvest management guide is available in 10 languages, featuring topics such as how to choose the best time for harvest, and the advantages of different transportation methods.
Establish low-waste incentives
Increased awareness about food waste can turn retailers’ pro-waste incentives into low-waste incentives. Danish food expert Selina Juul’s Stop Wasting Food campaign inspired Danish supermarket Rema 1000 to replace buy-one-get-one-free and other quantity-based discounts with general discounts in all of its stores. Similarly, the US$16 billion grocery chain Stop and Shop/Giant Landover found that reductions in overstocking not only cut waste, but saved around US$100 million annually, and improved customer satisfaction by decreasing spoilage.
Collect and distribute food waste data
Collecting and displaying data on food waste is critical to changing wasteful habits. U.S. college students are helping to lead the charge, challenging universities to measure and reduce their food waste footprints. A great resource for others looking to get involved is food waste expert Jonathan Bloom’s blog, Wasted Food, which features weekly updates about new data, waste reduction campaigns, and tips for local action.
On farms, in homes, at schools, and in businesses, we can all help find ways to prevent food waste. In the countdown to World Environment Day on June 5th, Food Tank will feature more information about food waste reduction on its website.
Visit Food Tank to learn more about how you can reduce your own family’s food waste footprints!
Do you have a suggestion on how to eliminate food waste that is not mentioned above? My tip is to shop wisely! Only purchase what you can eat and avoid those sneaky impulse buys! I know that sounds like common sense, but shoppers tend to over purchase produce in bulk thinking they are getting a great deal and waste more than can be consumed. Ultimately, the excess food ends up rotting in landfills some where.
I would love to hear your tips and share them with my readers! Have a happy and productive World Environment Day! Peace out!