Discover more from Save Our Happy Place
Fighting Food Waste
A Cultural Problem with a Planetary Impact
Save Our Happy Place is a climate action newsletter dedicated to making it easy for you to help protect the places you love from climate change, written by Lindsay Nunez. Read on for simple yet effective climate actions, and sustainable + eco-friendly lifestyle tips.
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Hey there sunshine! Welcome back to Save Our Happy Place. This week we’re taking a closer look at the food waste issue in the U.S., how it affects the climate, and what you can do to help mitigate the issue through both personal and systemic level action.
Where does food waste come from?
Uneaten food that is thrown out at homes, stores, and restaurants
Crops left in fields because of low crop prices or too many of the same crops being available
Problems during the manufacturing and transportation of food
Food not meeting retailers' standards for color and appearance
What is the big problem with food waste (from a climate perspective)?
119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States equating to $408 billion in food.
Nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted, some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually.
EPA estimated that U.S. food loss and waste each year embody the same CO2 emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants.
Globally, food waste makes up 8% of greenhouse gas emissions and is the most common material found in landfills.
Take Lifestyle Action Against Food Waste
7 Tips to Lower Food Waste in Your Home
The USDA estimates that each year, a family of four wastes around $1,500 on food that goes uneaten.
1. Know the difference between "Best Before" and "Sell By”
"Sell by" is solely for the retailer; this helps guide them on how long they should keep the product on the shelf. "Best Before" is used for quality purposes and less so for safety. Expiration dates should be followed for fresh and refrigerated foods. As for dry and canned goods, many of these can last months past their expiration dates.
This chart by Real Simple is a great source for how long you store different types of food.
2. Prioritize eating what is about to expire
This one is pretty straightforward. If something is about to expire, go ahead and eat it. You can arrange your refrigerator and pantry much like they do in grocery stores by keeping the oldest items in the front.
3. Take a to-go container to restaurants
Save your food without creating more waste with to-go containers by bringing Tupperware with you! I love carrying Stojo’s collapsible bowl in my bag with me wherever I go. It’s lean, lightweight, and comes in handy in a pinch. If you drive, these are also great to just keep in the car for when you need them.
4. Donate Food You’re Not Going to Eat
If you’re about to go out of town or simply know that your schedule will not accommodate food before it goes bad, donate it. Give it to a friend or drop it off at a local food bank. NYC has community fridges in all 5 boroughs.
5. Eat Ugly Food
6. Love Your Leftovers
Making sure you eat your leftovers is a huge way to avoid food waste. A few quick tactics: freeze leftovers if you think you won’t get to them this week, get creative and repurpose them into a different recipe, eat your leftovers for lunch, or when meal planning set aside a night or two specifically to eat leftovers.
We’ll get more into this one in the next edition. In the meantime, composting is great for those hard-to-avoid areas of food waste like produce stems, cores, and seeds. It is also a magical way to connect back to nature.
Help to Influence the 2023 American Farm Bill
Congress will write our next farm bill in 2023 influencing the next 5-7 years of American agriculture policy. This bill governs everything from how our food is produced, to its distribution and consumption, determining the entirety of our food and agriculture system. As the bill currently stands it supports industrial agriculture practices that prioritize commodities over communities. This results not only in food waste but negative climate impacts and a deterioration of our resiliency in the face of extreme weather conditions.
Here are two quick ways to help influence the 2023 American Farm Bill:
1. Sign this petition with Regenerate America advocating for regenerative farming practices around soil health to be prioritized in the American Farm Bill.
2. Send a message to your congressional representatives with Feeding America to support anti-huger programs through the American Farm Bill.