Eat local. Eat organic. Those are great goals, but you can make a positive impact on the planet even if you’re eating cheese-whiz. Don’t believe me? It turns out that 40 percent of food produced in America is ultimately wasted.
Considering all the land, fresh water, and other precious natural resources that go into food production, reducing your food waste will go a long way to helping the planet. Here are some simple tips for saving some of that food:
Ignore “sell by,” “best by,” or similar labels on food packages: These dates are confusing, (some say) meaningless, and cause consumers to needlessly toss food. The labels indicate “freshness,” not when the item becomes unsafe to eat. Since proper food handling is a better indication for how long your food will last before it spoils, focus on storing it correctly instead of following an arbitrary date. Watch out! There’s one major exception to this rule: baby foods and formulas. Unlike their grown-up counterparts, baby food labeling is much more strictly regulated by the F.D.A. You should always follow the “expires on” date on baby food packaging, since after that date, it’s no longer safe for Junior to consume.
Ice, ice, baby: The freezer is an often-forgotten way to extend the life of your leftovers. You can freeze just about anything, from meats to fruits to sweets. In fact, a list by the University of Georgia lists only 15 things that don’t freeze well. And in spite of the list’s suggestion, I’ve successfully frozen buttermilk (perfect for Sunday pancakes), so you can take the list as more of a guideline than a mandate.
Shop your pantry: How many times have you looked in your full fridge, freezer, or pantry and declared that’s there’s nothing to eat? It’s tempting to believe this, but try “shopping” your freezers and pantries. By making an effort to use up those canned and frozen foods that accumulate, you’ll save some green and be able to take inventory of what foods you’re actually eating.
Share! If you’ve ever gotten one of those community produce boxes and absolutely panicked when you received four pounds of kale, see if you can spread the LUV by passing them along to a friend. Likewise, your local food bank would also happily accept your canned and packaged food.
Do you have ideas or fun recipes that reduce food waste? Let us know by commenting below. DING! You are now free to be Green!