When you think about just how much food you eat during a given week, it's easy not to realize how much on our plates we don't eat... According to The Real Junk Food Project, "It is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted globally each year; this amounts to nearly 40% of global production." The following individuals and organizations, however, have started contemplating this issue and options to help reduce the impact of food waste. Each of these is a pretty insightful, resourceful, and incredible project. Check them out for inspiration and food waste mindfulness!
this box of fruits and veggies was given to us by generous friends when they had more than they could eat this summer
The Real Junk Food Project
This first one is a project and café in England. According to the about page, they "intercept perfectly edible food that would otherwise not make it to plate and serve it as meals in the café or distribute it through our food boutique." In addition to reducing waste and creating something positive from what would have been thrown away, they operate their café with a "Pay-as-you-feel (PAYF) policy." Check out this YouTube video from March 2014 to see them in action and this article from last week on Skipchen, the Real Junk Food Project café.
A College Student & His Cafeteria
This short video clip is particularly inspirational for anyone who has ever felt like they've witnessed something they could help to change. This student, noticing how much food goes to waste in his college cafeteria, he organized a group at his school to coordinate delivery of the school's leftovers to area churches, homeless shelters, and other community centers in need. Since beginning in 2011, it's become a nationally-recognized non-profit, with opportunities to become involved in your area.
Food Cycle US
According the their "About Us" page, Food Cycle connects small, organic farms to public schools, in order to promote good health, awareness, and thought about healthy habits and the food we eat. To get involved, you can donate or help support and volunteer via their website.
Food Bank Locator
This locator is organized by state to help you locate a local food bank. You can donate foods yourself, donate money, or volunteer your time and assist with operations (including packing boxes or grocery/ food delivery).
Update: Even organizations like NASCAR are seeing how much food we waste and how to initiate a (big!) change. Check out the Richmond International Raceway's program as part of NASCAR's Race to Green initiative.
With beautiful projects and organizations such as these, it's hard to imagine food waste across the globe has gotten so bad. A great place to start is in your own home. If you start to eliminate the waste there, you can start to see it in other settings.
On this webpage, the EPA provides the following tips to help reduce food waste in your home:
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad about how they've organized their fridge/ shopping habits/ life; it is, however, intended to encourage everyone to rethink how to reduce food waste. Every little bit helps.
- Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
- Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish.
- Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
Would you try "intercepted" food at a café like Skipchen?
Have you ever helped reduce food waste in your home?
What works well?
Labels: Go Ahead--Try It!, Life, Mindful Eating, Videos