It’s time for week 2 of my food waste challenge!
I always feel like I’m just throwing dollars in the trash can when I throw away food. I know that I need to get better– which is the reason for this food waste challenge! Last week we took a look at just how much I am throwing away by pound. If you need to catch up on the food waste challenge details, read my first post about Reducing Food Waste.
Today we’re going to take a look at another way to approach food waste: mindfulness.
Thich Nhat Hanh (one of my favorite mindfulness authors) has so many great quotes, and one of my favorites is the one above about how we’re currently treating our earth. The future of our earth sits in the hands of our children, and their children, etc. And we’re leaving it in worsening shape with each generation.
The impact of food waste is not just about the money– environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and the excess rotting food creates more methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.
- One-third of the food produced in this world gets lost or wasted.
- In the US, 30% of our food id wasted, and half the water used to produce this food also goes to waste.
- Each year, consumers in more affluent countries waste as much food as the entire net population of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).
- Food waste squanders water, land, energy, labor, and capital.
- In more affluent countries, food is wasted more often at the consumer level.
Why does food waste happen?
Food waste is often a subconscious act. Some of the most common reasons for throwing away food we discussed last week. Other reasons include cooking too much, the kids don’t like it, we forget what we have in our pantry, forget to freeze something in time, or we just don’t know what to do with our leftovers. Check out this online food waste assistant! Use it on the last item of food you threw away, and it’ll give you practical solutions and tips to avoid wasting it next time.
It goes without saying that eating is a crucial part of our daily lives. For some it’s just to sustain life, for others it’s a pleasure (and hopefully it’s more of a pleasure than a chore!). Whatever your relationship to food is, we can all be smarter and more mindful about the way we eat, serve, shop and dispose of food.
In many areas of the world (ahem, USA) the act of grocery shopping, cooking and eating is a very mindless activity. We blow through our week– shopping without a list, buying random items at the grocery store. Bringing home food without a plan on how to use it. Wasting food we bought when we decide to go through the drive through instead of cooking.
Feeding Our People
One in seven people go to bed hungry worldwide, and more than 20,000 people die of hunger each day. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, reducing food waste by 15% would be enough to feed 25 million Americans.
The ironic fact is that there are more overweight than underweight people in the United States, while we deal with such a large hunger and food waste problem. Increasing portion size, proliferation of fast food chains, and the abundance of ready made, cheap and non-nutritious foods are leading to major health problems such as obesity and diabetes. US restaurants serve portions 2-8 times bigger than recommended by the USDA dietary guidelines.
One way to think of food waste is personal health. Planning and preparing your own food at home leads to less waste and is better for your health overall.
Awareness is the first step to becoming a more conscious consumer. Creating a culture of sustainability is what’s needed! Wasting resources depletes the environment and causes major issues. For example, more than 20 percent of all cultivated land is undergoing degradation, agriculture and deforestation contributes to more than 30% total greenhouse gas emissions, and over fishing contributes to declining numbers of fish.
When we think about food waste as more of a worldly problem, and not just about saving money in our personal lives, we can have much more motivation for being mindful of our food. As the old sign goes: Buy it with thought, cook it with care, serve just enough, save what will keep, and eat what would spoil.
Next week we’re going to get into the steps we can take to be smarter shoppers, starting with creating a great meal plan! I’m going to walk you through how I create my weekly meal plans, step by step. Be sure to come back next Tuesday for week 3 of my food waste challenge!