Addressing the Problems of Food Waste
Nowadays, food waste is an incredibly widespread issue. Many sources claim that roughly ⅓ of all food produced worldwide is wasted— in fact, some sources estimate that as much as 1.3 billion tons of meat and produce is wasted in some years (World Wildlife Fund; Munesue et al.). Another equally appalling fact is that food waste is a big source of greenhouse gas emissions, since food releases methane into the atmosphere as it decays. According to the World Wildlife Fund, food waste is responsible for 11% of the greenhouse gas emissions that comes from food systems all over the world.
Luckily, there are a number of helpful tips that can be found on many websites to give consumers advice on reducing food waste while shopping and at home. Here is some of the more frequently given advice:
While shopping or before going shopping
Carefully plan a grocery list. Another great tip is to check the fridge to avoid overbuying and to avoid buying food items that are already lying around.
Don’t be afraid to buy “ugly” produce. About 20~40% of produce is thrown out before it reaches the marketplace because it looks imperfect (BBC). What ugly produce does reach the store tends to be left behind because it looks less appealing to consumers. However, even if the produce looks odd, it’s not necessarily rotten. Buying these leftover fruits and vegetables stops them from being thrown out and reduces food waste.
Make use of freezers. Foods that won’t be eaten right away can be stored in the freezer and defrosted at a later date to preserve them. Websites such as BBC Good Foods have excellent freezing guides for a variety of foods, including vegetables and other everyday items.
On a similar note, perishables such as frozen foods shouldn’t be left out for more than two hours. Refrigerate or freeze them as soon as possible!
Make use of leftovers. Leftovers that have been in the fridge for a while don’t have to be thrown out. Often, they can be repurposed into other dishes.
The United States’ plan for reducing food waste is to cut the amount of food waste by 50% by 2030. Starting by taking the steps outlined above brings everyone a little closer to reaching that goal.