SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Of all the food supply in the country between 30 to 40 percent goes to waste.
According to the USDA, in 2010, that was equivalent to at least 133 billion pounds of food and $161 billion worth of food.
There are many reasons for this, as food can go bad, or get damaged on its way to the consumer, over-ordering. But consumers also play a role when we buy too much, cook too much and throw too much away.
As we celebrate Earth Day and its 50th anniversary on Wednesday, April 22, it’s crucial to be aware and learn some new ways we can do our part at home.
In 2015, the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set a goal to cut the nation’s food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. With ten years to go and Earth Day here, it’s the perfect time to make a difference.
Amanda Allen, a dietician at HyVee, has some tips on how to do that by shopping and eating sustainably.
“It doesn’t have o be and all or nothing situation, if there’s one thing we can incorporate that can make a huge difference and decrease our carbon footprint,” Allen said.
She says planning out your meals for the week ahead of time can help you stay on track of what and how much to buy. Going to the grocery full is also a trick to keep you from overbuying.
Allen mentioned HyVee’s Misfit Program, which is where the store sells “ugly produce” for a discounted price. The produce might be smaller, or a little damaged but is still good to purchase and safe to eat, and would otherwise go to the trash, so it’s helping decrease the amount of food waste.
How you store your food also matters. Allen says if it’s in the season, it tends to last a little bit longer.
She says apples and avocados stored in a fridge can last much longer, and she says bananas, lemons, limes, or tomatoes don’t belong in the refrigerator.
Amanda’s tip: freeze freshly chopped herbs and put them in an ice tray with olive oil. Use the infused oil for cooking later!
Allen explains that the sell-by or best-by date doesn’t have to do safety, but with quality. So while the product might not taste its best by that date, it’s still safe to eat. The “use by” date has to do with safety, and that’s when you would consider not consuming it for safety reasons.
For more tips and guides on food storage, click here or contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.