Food waste is one of those subjects that I have felt powerless. Like world hunger, it's so big it's hard to even wrap my head around it, easy to stay in denial. The fact that food waste is not only at the top of the list for causing Global warming- all of that food wasted could be feeding hungry people (including my family) . Rather than pointing my finger over there, I thought I would start right here. What is my part in it?
" The most common way People give up their power is by thinking they don't have any" Alice Walker
Well I thought I would dive in to see how to start taking action? When I want to make a change in my life, just making a decision usually doesn't cut it - I need to take action one step at a time, creating a challenge helps me get pumped up and then something happens to me organically. I treat it like an art project then hopefully it turns into a way of life. Enjoying the process is essential for me to keep moving forward and even if I fall behind because life stuff happens, I can always start again.
What if we focused on world hunger with an abundance attitude and less on scarcity - More food sharing rather then the Monsanto plan, I find this to be exciting, there is much more to learn for me but here are some facts that helped me get started in my own challenge and changing.
Last year for the very first time in our country the Obama administration announced the goal of cutting food waste by 50%-
- 133 billion pounds of food is lost and wasted in United states of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers.
- Food loss and waste is the single largest component of disposed solid waste and accounts for a significant portion of U.S. methane emissions.
- Landfills are the third largest source of methane.
- Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions.
- 40% of food grown in the USA is wasted from farm to grocer to household.
What happens to the food at grocery stores and restaurants that aren't being eaten or bought? Well, it usually goes to landfill. Thankfully more and more individuals and organizations are finding ways to get that perfectly good food to people that need it. Whether it's from the farms like gleaning or dumpster diving behind grocery stores because food has been thrown away due to "sold by dates"- that's a whole subject in of its self. The restaurant that throws food away and the client that doesn't finish his plate. All that good healthy food going to waste?
- ⅓ of the groceries we buy are wasted- Wow- so that's money that we could be saving and the way I look at it, besides wasting food, it's also wasting plastic, all that food that we buy is packaged and then when we don't eat the food- that plastic waste is a double whammy, OUCH.
As a consumer, we don't want to see any nicks or bruising or we think a fruit and vegetable should have a very specific shape or size. I get it, people want the highest quality food for the best value- But this concept over the years has set standards that have nothing to do with quality and because of this misconception almost half of the food grown cant be sold and it goes to waste, this is just unacceptable.
How much do I even spend on grocery's? Well if I look up how much The USDA suggest food costs should be for individuals and families. The low budget plan for 4 people is $636 per month and for liberal spending $1268 is the amount for a family of 4. Hmm, I spent 1400 last month and I don't trust USDA for putting enough Value on food but it's a way for me to see what some of the challenges are to buy local, organic, NON-gmo and hopefully by focusing on not wasting food will show savings. I know I must waste a lot of money and food, even though I don't want to admit that, this challenge is not about rigid rules or perfection but it's a learning tool for me, changing my awareness and habits. Wish me luck! I would love to here your experience or thoughts.
First things first.
Once I became informed, I started really noticing how I contribute to the problem- even if I think I don't. I am talking and sharing my awareness and experience with friends and family. Obviously, my non-disposable lifestyle plays a huge role in this- so this challenge addresses using little packaging. Important- my life doesn't always go as planned, This might not work one week, then I start again, I try to have a lot of compassion for myself and my family. This is not an easy task with so much going on in our lives- I find it rewarding and possible with a lot of room for mistakes.
1. I clean my kitchen- pantry and fridge, take inventory of all food. Literally, write it down and bring to store or farmers market so you don't buy what you already have.
2. I make a list of food that is a part of my life- What do I eat now? What are my families staple foods? what would I like to change- I wanted to eat much less meat- so I did the math on that and plan accordingly.
3. I organize storage containers and shopping bags. This is essential for shopping avoiding single use disposables and that includes wasteful packaging. I love vintage Jars, but you can save the jars that you purchase other items in or go to local thrift store. I have lots of bulk and shopping bags, lol.
4. plan plan plan, my meals, shopping sprees, storage. This does not come easy for me- I found that planning makes it less frustrating and a lot more successful and fun.
5. I buy less food than I think I need unless I know it's one of those staple items that I eat every day- I keep track of whats left over at the end of the month and make those changes in how much I buy next time.
6. Get to know your fridge- where best to store what and how. I love that song " getting to know you, getting to know all about you" you can sing that while you clean the fridge! The fridge has different climates and each of our veggies and fruits like different climates- our addiction to plastic has taken all of that knowledge away. Make a place for items that need to be eaten soon, so you can eat those first.
7. Instead of asking the questions "What do we want for dinner tonight? How about - What's in our fridge or pantry that we need to use up?- this is fun and creative- get your family involved and pile into the kitchen and cook something together.
8. Always learning- I like to challenge myself - this March I have committed to not wasting any food and I will keep track of how much money I spend on food and how much I will be saving by eating all of the food I buy.