National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day serves up a nice opportunity to discuss a topic I am passionate about: food waste. This issue continues to be of great interest among the health and wellness community, as you have read here and beyond. It’s a challenge that we encounter daily on a global and local level.
Each year, Americans toss out 80 billion pounds of food, most of which is not recovered and can end up in landfills. Per person, this breaks down to over 250 pounds of food wasted each year. When I think about the natural resources (land, water, and more) used to help grow the wasted food, it is mind boggling, especially because 1 in 6 people in America are food insecure.
These facts are eye opening, and as health and wellness professionals we can help the public reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills. Where do we start? One easy place to begin is in our own refrigerator and then we can share tips and guidance to our peers, patients and clients to pay it forward. If you are on social media, get engaged on this topic and share the statistics and the tips to make a difference.
Here are some easy ways to begin reducing food waste:
- Keep it cool. To prevent spoilage, be sure to keep your refrigerator at or below 40⁰ F and freezer below 0⁰ F.
- I.F.O. (First In. First Out). Arrange your food to ensure that you use the older food first. Watch this quick clip for tips on how to effectively organize your refrigerator.
- Shop your refrigerator first. Before you head out to the grocery store, check to see what you already have in your fridge/freezer to prevent from purchasing more than you need.
- Create recipes with the extras. Be inventive and turn your leftovers into some tasty meals like this Fridge-Clearing Lentil Soup. Top it with Greek yogurt and add a whole grain baguette on the side for a filling fall meal.
- Toss or keep? Keeping foods too long can put you at risk for foodborne illnesses. Tossing foods too soon can increase the amount of unwarranted food waste. Take this quick quiz to see if you can determine when to toss or keep foods.
Follow me here and @JeanRagalieRD as we continue the food waste discussion.