It’s the beginning of the week. New groceries find their way onto the shelfs of my refrigerator, wedging the forgotten food into the back walls. On the counter I pile the food in a pile. What can’t be composted ends its life in the trash. All the food that lands in the trash bin can be expressed in gallons of water.
Between thirty to fifty percent of all food produced in the United States,never makes it into our mouths. Food is wasted at each stop on the food production chain: farm, processing plant, supermarket, restaurant and home kitchen. According to the book Waste by Tristram Stuart, we could feed the world’s hungry three times over with all the food we waste.
I offer a few ways to reduce your own food waste and Eat Less Water:
1.Purchase direct from the farmer when possible to eliminate potential waste that occurs on the conventional journey of food to our mouths. A great example is Funny Farms a chicken farm in the Ojai Valley. Every other Saturday chickens are available for pick-up for customers who reserve them in advance. Only the chickens reserved are slaughter that morning.
2. Support food producers with diverse operations. The Solvang Pie Co located in Santa Ynez, California is a great example of how a diverse farm minimizes waste. They produce fruit pies, bread, pasta and eggs that are sold at local farmer’s markets.The apples grown for the pies are fertilized by the chickens that wander beneath them plucking pests from the soil. The chickens provide the eggs for the bakery, fed by the excess wheat germ from the wheat grown for the tasty baked goods.
3. Buy food with fewer ingredients. We all have food in our cupboards and refrigerator shelfs that list a paragraph of ingredients. Each one of those ingredients used has contributed to food waste during its growth and production. Less ingredients translates to less potential waste.
4. Plan your meals and buy only what you need. This does not have to be an extravagant exercise. On Sundays we sit down and plan the weeks menu. I will incorporate food I have already stocked in my cupboards and refrigerator for the coming week menu. I have days of the week designated like Wednesday soup and pizza Fridays. Pizza Fridays is a favorite with the kids. I make enough pizza dough to last two Fridays. We often invite friends for pizza Fridays. Friends will contribute to the pizza topping using food from their kitchen or gardens.
5. I find the plastic food storage containers to disappear my food. The food goes in tasty and fresh and is found again with a hint of sewer smell. I prefer to save food in glass jars. I use a dry erase marker to write the date the food is placed in the jar.
6.Don’t throw away food that is still in its prime. We throw away food based on the expiration date but that may not be the true date. The website shelflifeadvice.com provides guides on food shelf life’s. For example, they write that yogurts are good one week past the expiration date. I think of all the good yogurt I have thrown away in the past…what a waste.
7. Cook from scratch. When you cook from scratch you generally use fewer ingredients, you have more control over the source of the ingredients and home cooked delicious food usually finds its way into bellies not trash bins. Work to commit one more night of a meal cooked from scratch to your weekly meal repertoire. Weekends are a good time to make food from scratch when you have more time. Remember to double recipes when it makes sense and freeze for a meal later in the week or for lunches.