FOOD WASTE IN THE US, AND THE LITTLE THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP

FOOD WASTE IN THE US, AND THE LITTLE THINGS WE CAN DO TO HELP

A yellow-rimmed plate with sausages, eggs, breakfast potatoes and fries piled up, next to a cold drink with a straw. It looks like a delicious meal!
A plate of delicious-looking food

Hey hey hey! Did you miss us? We missed you too!

We had a crazy fun August, and we hope you did too. With a ton of new sellers and charities joining our platform, we’re ready to leap to that back-to-school, back to the office vibe and on to a beautiful fall. And with all that good stuff, we thought: when’s better than harvest season to do a little food-related note?

The what:

Warning: we’re ripping the band-aid off first . . . according to the FDA and numerous backing studies, an estimated 30–40% of all food within the food supply in America goes to waste. Shocked? Yessir, we were. While globally, food wastage is around 1.4 billion tons per year, unfortunately America comes top of the chart, throwing out 40 billion tons a year. This is more than any other individual country, and it’s incredibly sad, especially given the bounteous crop harvests available here.

Why does food waste matter?

Realistically, for a number of reasons. One is rectifying social inequalities and addressing food insecurity. Broadly, the food being thrown out at one end of the country could have easily been used to feed families without access to that food at the other end of the country.

Then, food waste is not simply a waste of that particular food — it’s a wasted cost at all levels of the supply chain, including labour, materials, land, water, energy and so on. Cutting food waste cuts costs and wastage in all those other areas.

Finally, since food is thrown out in such vast quantities in the US, it forms the largest proportion of waste in landfill sites. As it decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases, which are contributing to climate change in the wrong direction.

The way forward

Now we’ve bummed ourselves and you out (sorry), let’s think positive, for solutions. What can we all do to fix the situation? As it happens, a bunch of stuff!

Although food wastage happens at each stage of the food supply chain, we’re going to focus on the consumer level changes we can implement. Below are just a few simple changes folks can easily make — and please, write in and let us know your ideas too  We’re all eager to learn.

Buy only what you need

Supermarkets are hella clever in selling us all kinds of stuff we don’t truly need. Impulse purchases form a humungous part of grocery shopping, and impulsive buying leads to more wastage. So, how to tackle it? A three-pronged approach, friends:

1. Don’t go food shopping while you’re hungry (rookie mistake!);

2. Stick rigorously to Santa principles: make a list and check it twice; and

3. RESIST THE URGE to follow every deal or offer that supermarkets push!

Know the difference between Use by and Best before dates

‘Best before’ dates on packaging refer to the time period where a product is literally ‘at its best.’ Eating it after this date has expired is not a safety concern, although the food may not taste quite as expected. (Silver-lining: it may taste better!)

‘Use by’ dates on packaging are seldom used, and only apply to perishable items that would pose a health risk if eaten after the ‘use by date.’ Therefore, be mindful of these dates as you are purchasing, eat these items in time, and don’t buy them if you know you won’t have time to eat ‘em.

Use your freezer

Freeze food that maybe you can’t get through right now, but will be able to in the future. Most items of food can be frozen with little or no deterioration in taste: here’s a helpful guide to best practices.

Get creative with leftovers, from fresh and take-out food

Leftover food can be re-fashioned into super interesting second, even third meals. This doesn’t just go for meals you’ve cooked yourself, but also for take-out and even doggy-bagged food. If you love exploring different tastes and don’t really do repetition, hone your creative skills!

A personal anecdote to end on: humous was my bugbear — the villainous, boring anti-taste to my spice-honed tastebuds. But then … I learned! I learned that a blandish background is perfect for a zillion different spicy highlights! The possibilities are limited only by my teeny tiny mind, and that’s just humous.

So in honour of a ClearGivers vow to waste less food this coming fall, we’d love to hear from you: What are some of your cool leftover ideas? What are some of the things you do to keep waste to a minimum? What unimaginably awesome thing do you do with humous?

We’re hungry, and we want to know :)