Avoid wasteful habits, stop trashing food

by Amy Devito

MCT Campus
MCT Campus

The land of the free has granted its citizens bountiful opportunities to grow and prosper.

However, in recent history, that advantage has been taken for granted. American consumption seems to multiply year after year, resulting in a nation notorious for its materialism and mass production of resources.

Not only does this country cultivate materials on an immense scale, it also wastes a considerable portion of what is made.

One of the largest markets contributing to this compiled waste is the food industry. As this country proliferates a population wallowing in obesity and a prodigal economy, others are crippled by the pressure of scarce resources and starving populations. To counter this gross disparity, privileged citizens need to be more frugal with their consumption. Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without must become an everyday adage.

“The estimated number of undernourished people in developing countries was 824 million in 1990-92,” according to worldhunger.org.

The most recent estimate, released last October by Food Agriculture Organizations of the Untied Nations, stated 925 million people are undernourished.

“In 1997, in one of the few studies of food waste, the Department of Agriculture estimated that two years before, 96.4 billion pounds of the 356 billion pounds of edible food in the United States was never eaten,” according to The New York Times.

Most of this waste comes from spoilage.

It is important to plan meals and grocery store visits accordingly. Sticking to a set food budget will help avoid impulse buys or unnecessary items. Also, do not shop on an empty stomach.

This increases shoppers’ tendencies to grab extra food, especially unhealthy products. Shoppers can also visit the grocery store every few days and buy less, as opposed to going every few weeks and buying everything in bulk. Keeping a food diary or frequently conducting an inventory of the refrigerator and noting expiration dates will help put into perspective what should be eaten first.

“On average we waste about 14 percent of food purchases per year, and the average American family throws out over $600 of fruit per year,” according to planetgreen.com.

It helps to save and eat leftovers, which can be used for ingredients in another meal, and it’s useful to save the ends and extra pieces of diced vegetables. Try drying vegetables, such as tomatoes, in the oven before they spoil. Then, store them in olive oil in the refrigerator or try canning and pickling.

For peas, beans, corn, carrots, broccoli and other leafy greens, blanching and storing them in the freezer will increase shelf life. Fruit and vegetable juices are expensive, so it may be wise to throw uneaten produce into the blender and make fresh beverages.

It’s also possible to freeze dairy products, such as milk, leaving enough room in the container for expansion so they can be defrosted in the refrigerator.

Composting is another resourceful way to avoid waste. Anything except meat and dairy will work in a compost pile, ensuring extra food will be useful in the future.

The Department of Agriculture estimates recovering just five percent of wasted food could feed four million people a day. Recovering 25 percent of wasted food would feed 20 million people. Whether inspired by moral obligation or a tight wallet, wasteful habits must and can be stopped now.