One pound every day...that's the amount of food wasted by the average American, according to a recent study by researchers at The University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, and the United States Department of Agriculture. (1)
And, according to a Washington Post article (2) reporting on the study, the environmental resources used to produce this waste are significant, including:
30 million acres of cropland (about the land area of Pennsylvania)
4.2 trillion gallons of water
2 billion pounds of fertilizer, which contains compounds that can potentially compromise water quality
To paint an even more complete picture, upwards of 25% of the food available for consumption in the United States gets wasted, and this is all happening while at the same time one in eight Americans struggle to put food on the table. It's mind-blowing...I know!
The study also found that a good majority of the food wasted is fresh fruits and vegetables, which we all need to be eating more of for better health.
While preventing all food waste is important, this post shares tips for how we can waste less and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Enjoy ugly fruits and vegetables
For decades, grocers, restaurants and the like have rejected perfectly good produce just because they don't look perfect. Many organizations exist to salvage this nutritious food that would otherwise be thrown away. Support these organizations. Imperfect Produce is a great example.
Buy canned, dried and frozen
Fresh food is valued for it's nutrition and quality, but their nutrients won't do anyone good if left to spoil in the fridge rather than be eaten. Canned, dried and frozen fruits and vegetables can often be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts while being quite cost effective.
Cook once, eat thrice
In a rush to get a quick meal on the table, fresh fruits and vegetables are often overlooked because they may be more labor intensive to prepare. Chop the entire head of cauliflower or lettuce. Saute the entire package of mushrooms or spinach. You can easily incorporate these leftovers into tomorrow's breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Plan a food waste meal each week
Pick one meal of the week dedicated to using up the fresh fruits and vegetables that are on the verge of expiring. Use them in smoothies, scrambles and omelets, salads and stir fries where almost any ingredient goes. I have to say, it feels really good when you salvage all that produce!
Do you use the broccoli florets but throw away the stems? Are you making good use of carrot and beet greens? A simple Google search will bring up countless ways to use parts of produce you might otherwise throw away.
I'd love to know your tricks of the trade for salvaging fruits and vegetables. Please share your ideas below!