Picture this: you go to the store to prepare for your weekly meal prep. You get fresh organic veggies, fruits, herbs, and greens for the healthy meals you hope to make throughout the week. But, when you go to use the fresh cilantro or romaine lettuce; you realize it has began to wilt. The spinach turns soggy and the broccoli has become slimy.
If you’re like me, you just can’t do it. Soggy spinach is the worst and no matter how hard I try hide it in a shake, I just can’t stand the disgusting texture. Sadly, sometimes the foods and spices that we intend to eat just don’t last as long as we need them to; usually leaving us with one option, to throw it away.
What a waste! According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of primary product equivalents” (FAO, 2018). FAO also suggests that the carbon footprint of food waste is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere, wow! So, how can you help?
Freeze Your Food
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggests that freezing food is one of the top ways to prevent food from going to waste. We all have been there, we bought too much food or have to travel on short notice; so we use up as much food as we can but then toss the rest. Consider freezing everything that you can! You’ll be able to reuse it when you get home. It may seem like a pain; but, if our ancestors could make the most of their food without a freezer or refrigerator, we can too.
By being in the know, you’ll have a great idea of how long each food item will last. For example, did you know that apples can last for up to three weeks or that a halved avocado usually only lasts one day? Not only is it imperative to know how long your favorite foods last, but you should also know how to properly store them. Here are a few tips on how to store some of the most popular foods found in refrigerators:
- Bell Peppers– Last up to one week and store best on the refrigerator shelf in a plastic bag.
- Tomatoes– Last up to five days and stay their freshest when unwrapped in a well vented container.
- Broccoli- Lasts up to five days in your refrigerator drawer while wrapped in plastic.
- Potatoes- These are one of the heartier foods that can last up to two months when stored in paper bag, inside a dark pantry.
- Cilantro- Lasts for up to one week on a refrigerator shelf with stems in water and leaves lightly covered with plastic.
- Bacon- Stores best in the refrigerator meat drawer in a sealed bag with no air or it you can freeze it for up to one month.
Berries- Lasts for approximately three to five days when in a refrigerator drawer, uncovered and in a vented container.
Join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Waste Challenge
In 2013 the USDA launched a food waste challenge, calling on folks all around the nation to join efforts to reduce food waste, recover food waste and to recycle. Reducing food waste can happen on all levels (think: manufacturers, product development, food storage, shopping, labeling and cooking). It’s important to assess your shopping and eating habits to help reduce food and save yourself money!
What is recovering food waste? Well, it means that you can assist with connecting potential food sources to hunger relief organizations like local food pantries and non-profit organizations. Lastly, you can recycle! Use your food scraps to feed animals like pigs or consider adding it to your compost pile or natural fertilizers.
Will You Take Action?
After writing this I already feel inspired to take a brief assessment on my food habits. Instead of buying groceries once per week, i’ll try to split it up so that I only buy what I need. I also hope to utilize more products when they are in season and more local products to prevent food from wasting while traveling to its final destination. Will you join me? Share with us how you hope to prevent food waste in the comments below.