Less food is making its way to our stomachs. That’s according to a new report by Britain’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers that revealed up to half of the food produced worldwide ends up as garbage. Yes, you read that correctly: half!
With predictions that there could be an extra three billion people to feed by the end of the century and noting the number of families already struggling to put food on their tables, this news should spark action in all of us.
Researchers say part of the problem is in the supply chain, where inefficient agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, limited transportation and poor storage lead to squandered harvests and misused land, water and energy resources.
But we are also to blame.
The study cites overly strict sell-by dates, which causes to consumers to throw out food before its time. And customer demand for cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables results in piles of scratched or misshapen — but still nutritious — produce ending up in the trash.
In Britain, some 30% of vegetable crops are left unharvested because they’re not pretty enough, according to the report. In Europe and the U.S., consumers dump half of the food they buy, researchers said.
“The amount of food wasted and lost around the world is staggering. This is food that could be used to feed the world’s growing population – as well as those in hunger today,” said Dr. Tim Fox who leads the engineers’ group.
So, how can you help?
- Buy only what you can eat. Sure, that buy-one-get-one free offer may sound too good to pass up, but be realistic about what your family can consume before that food will spoil.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it. Plan out your meals in advance and write down only the ingredients you need to cook those meals.
- Use up fruit that is about to go bad in healthy smoothies. Make soup out of soon to turn vegetables.
- FIFO: This term is used in restaurants, but it can also be applied to home pantries and refrigerators. First In, First Out. That means the newest items you buy go to the back of the storage area so you use up the oldest food first.
- Check your fridge temp. It should be between 35 and 38 degrees to slow down the growth of bacteria.
- Friend your Freezer. Made too much of a dish? Freeze the leftovers and use them for another night when you might be too tired to cook dinner.
- Limit your meat consumption. Raising & producing meat requires about 10 times more land resources than it does to produce food like rice or potatoes. So, welcome a meatless dinner into your life at least once a week. If you need ideas for recipes that won’t have you missing the meat, try our Meatless Monday class next week.
- Some food waste is unavoidable, so set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings. In a short time, you’ll have rich, valuable compost for your plants.
What do you do to reduce waste in your kitchen? Share your ideas here.