As part of this week’s discussion on reducing food waste, we shared resources, tips, and tricks that you can try at home. Head over to these two articles we posted if you haven’t seen them already!
Many Small Actions Can Lead to Big Changes
Start with your purchasing and buy only what you need and will realistically use. Before you even head to the store, shop your refrigerator and pantry first and use what you already have. Along with Meatless Monday, how about designating a “No Food Waste Friday…or Tuesday or Wednesday” or any day of the week to use up leftovers and other food you already have that is at risk of spoiling before you would otherwise use it.
Read this article from Foodprint.org to learn 15 small actions you can take to reduce food waste that can lead to big changes.
Rescue Imperfect Foods
Project Drawdown, an international team of scientists evaluating climate solutions, ranked Reduced Food Waste as the #3 solution. In low-income countries, the wastage is primarily due to infrastructure, but in high-income countries a lot of food is rejected for aesthetic reasons or is wasted because we simply buy too much. Ranked with countries, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the U.S. and China. You can help reduce food waste by being willing to buy “ugly” or imperfect produce. Decide not to overlook a piece of produce just because it has a small blemish. Use foods that are a little past their prime in soups, casseroles or smoothies. Vendors at the Blacksburg Farmers Market sometimes sell overripe peaches or imperfect apples at a discount. Stock up and preserve these items to enjoy when they’re out of season.
Learn More About Food Labels
One of the issues identified by Project Drawdown as leading to unnecessary wasted food is a lack of consistency and understanding of food labels, leading to perfectly good food being thrown out. A solution they recommended is to recognize that a “best by” date is just that: “best by” that date and does not mean the food is spoiled or expired. Strive not to throw away food that is still safe to eat by paying attention to the condition of the food rather than a date printed on the packaging that may not be an indication of whether the food is still good.
And here’s another great animated short from the FDA on Understanding Date Labels on Food Packages
Don’t Waste. Share!
As you’re tackling your own habits to reduce wasted food in your household, you can also be more proactive to help local organizations like Share the Spare and the NRV Glean Team that are working to take surplus food that might otherwise go to waste and get it to people who are food insecure. Share the Spare will be back at the Blacksburg Farmers Market on Saturday ready to accept donations of surplus from your garden or food you purchase from farmers market vendors to help those less fortunate. We are excited to be partnering with Share the Spare and the YMCA at Virginia Tech to give away FREE (gently used but cleaned) reusable shopping bags.
Virginia Tech students and staff are working to reduce wasted food from campus dining halls through the Campus Kitchen (CKVT), which works to increase food access and to reduce food waste by redirecting unserved food from on-campus dining centers to hunger relief agencies in the New River Valley. Since 2015, CKVT has diverted 239,000 pounds (and counting!) of quality, unserved food from campus to community. This article explains the work of CKVT from a student perspective and offers tips to reduce wasted food, starting with “Don’t put too much on your plate.” CKVT is always looking for student leaders, so if you’re interested in being part of the movement, contact Kas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find More Ways to Get Involved in Our Community:
Week 11 starts tomorrow! Join us as we discuss ways to Cut Water Use and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see daily updates.