Food Waste in America

According to the USDA, food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply in America. There are many reasons why food can spoil as it moves through the supply chain from farm to table. Half of all waste occurs within the walls of our homes and with this we are also wasting money. If your grocery bill is $500 per month then you could be throwing away as much as $250 with your garbage.

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We’ve all cleaned out our refrigerators only to find spoiled leftovers, condiments that have expired or ingredients we never used because we didn’t like the taste. I know the last time I cleaned out my pantry I found canned goods that I moved from a previous home more than 5 years ago. Sadly, the use by date was more than 7 years ago. So not only did I throw them out but I also foolishly transported the cans to a new house.

So what can we do about this?

A favorite book is the The Zero Waste Cookbook by Giovanna Torrico and Amelia Wasilieve. It’s filled with so many ideas and recipes that result in less food waste at home. Many of the suggestions are strategies my grandparents used when I was a child. For example, using potato peels to make potato chips. Rather than tossing broccoli stems into the compost pile you could make broccoli stem slaw. Of course if you have chickens or pigs they would love to indulge in leftover vegetable scraps.

Here are some others ideas for minimizing food waste at home:

  1. Plan ahead for meals.
  2. Shop with a list and buy only the quantities you need based upon your plan.
  3. Use the grocery store as your food pantry and refrigerator; remember groceries in your pantry are “idle assets”.
  4. Create meals based upon what you have on hand before making another purchase.
  5. Donate unopened items to food pantries before the expiration date.

I’m sure our readers have many more ideas to offer. Please share!