Around 4 billion tons of food goes to waste each year, mainly because Americans are not careful about what they buy, how they store it, and when they trash it. This needs to stop—the theme of World Food Day (October 16) is to prevent food wastage and eradicate hunger. As they rightly put it, ‘when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.’
To avoid wastage, it’s important to be more mindful with groceries, whether it involves the planning, storing, reading and understanding expiry dates, and being innovative when it comes to preparing meals using leftovers instead of just discarding them out of ignorance or laziness.
Store It Right
It’s so common for food to get rotten or spoiled and go to waste, simply because it was not stored correctly. Not everything can be put into a box and stashed away; different foods need to be stored differently to ensure that they remain fresh and edible. Did you know that putting cupcakes in the refrigerator, for instance, makes them dry and inedible? But we’re here to discuss the more common, everyday foods that you need to store under the right conditions, with a ready reckoner on how to go about this.
Understand Expiry Dates
There are other ways to minimize the waste. Firstly, monitor your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards on a regular basis, so that you know what needs to be used up before it expires or rots. Go ahead and buy what you need, but stop stocking more than required, especially in the case of perishable products. Appreciate the different stages of the items you buy, and if you don’t consume all of it when they’re at their best, find creative ways to use them later on. You could also freeze half of what you buy, for later use.
It’s really sad that most American citizens rely largely on mass-produced and factory-farmed food that places a lot of emphasis on appearance, and often sacrifices produce that doesn’t meet those stringent standards of superficial good looks. Add to that an expiration-date obsession that borders on being unhealthy, and you have a lot of perfectly good food being discarded and destroyed for no good reason, even though it is perfectly good to eat.
Take inspiration from wonderful and smart people like Doug Rauch, the former president of specialty grocery chain Trader Joe’s, who are taking measures to slow down this process. His store, called The Daily Table, has joined hands with food growers, local restaurants, stores and manufacturers to source produce that’s extra, leftover or nearing its expiry date. These are then either donated or made available to customers at deep discounts. How deep, you ask? What if we told you that you could get eggs for 99cents a dozen, carrots for 29cents a pound, and frozen corn on the cob for 39cents a pack? Yes, you read that right. In fact, they pride themselves on being able to offer fully balanced nutritional food at roughly the same price you would pay for a fast food meal.
What’s more, hoping to impact economically-challenged families struggling to eat healthy on a budget, The Daily Table also offers ready-to-eat meals, because many of their target customers are too busy to cook healthy lunches and dinners at home.
Take your cue from these simple ways to reduce food wastage and if you’re still not sufficiently alarmed at the phenomenon, check this video: