Your fridge is ground zero, Part 2 of 2

“Hunger, in your neighborhood or anywhere in the world,
is a violation of human rights, and caused by inhumane politics.
Corporations have a responsibility to get the excess food to those who need it,
and we all have a responsibility to demand that they do.”

(Your fridge is ground zero, Part 1 of 2, 4/24/15)

Yesterday, we brought an important documentary to your attention, “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” (trailer here, how to screen). It revealed some sobering statistics summarized here, below which you can find some of the things you can do to fight this scourge that on our environment, making all the effects of climate change much worse.

by David McLean Flickr/creative commons
by David McLean
Flickr/creative commons
  • The US and Europe have 150-200% of the food they actually need, wasting the land by over planting to supply peak demand periods.
  • Although fruits and vegetables are the most wasted foods, their environmental impact pales in comparison to how much is wasted in the beef.
  • The amount of US-grown and -produced food that is wasted in the United States is a whopping 40%, costing $165 billion a year. The world as a whole wastes 30%.
  • While most of us might jump to the conclusion that it is restaurants, grocery stores, and farms that are doing all the wasting, it is actually consumers, you and me, who are responsible for the waste of more than half. We demand perfection, not one blemish on any fruit or vegetable, and just toss away 20% of the food we do buy.
  • The role that food waste plays in climate change cannot be understated. A full 4% of all the energy used in the US goes to the production of the food that we toss. Moreover, much of the wasted food goes to landfills increasing harmful methane emissions. And, the water we waste to produce discarded food in this country each year could instead supply a year of water to 500 million people.

You and I waste we waste about 20% of the food we buy, so what can we do to help . . .

  • Use your freezer more because practically any food can be frozen for use at a later date.
  • When you are cooking a meal, use what’s in your fridge rather than what you are “in the mood for.”
  • At the grocery store, understand expiration dates which mislead consumers. Sell By is a communication meant only for the retailer, and Use By or Best by a certain date is far short, in some case weeks or months, of the actual time you can consume the food before it is inedible.
  • Save and eat all your leftovers, yours and from restaurants. This is one of the biggest sources of wasted foods.
  • Mark a bin in your fridge that says, “Eat First.”
  • Frequent farmers market, of course, but offer to buy stuff they won’t sell because it isn’t necessarily attractive, like having one tiny defect.
  • Talk to people stocking produce and ask for expired or discarded items which you can buy at a huge discount or have for free
  • Volunteer at food banks, and work with your community to obtain and distribute more food to neighbors.
  • Encourage enterprises that turn food waste into fertilizer.
  • Become a gleaning volunteer to pick up all the food that will otherwise be left to rot in farm fields.
  • Most of all, educate yourself about food waste. It will change your life (and your fridge) forever. Start with the National Resources Defense Council.