We all seem to do it: we buy those fruits and veggies hoping to eat healthier and end up with spoiled food we toss in the trash. Some researchers have estimated that during a typical month, the average person wastes about 20 lbs of food, with even more than that wasted during the holidays. Not only is this bad for our wallets, it’s bad for our watersheds. Food waste tied in a plastic bag and tossed on a garbage pile takes years to decompose, releases methane gas and reduces the amount of oxygen available to aquatic life in the waterways.
Here are five tips to reduce food waste:
- Bypass Expiration Dates: There is a common misconception that the “Best Before date” on a product means that it shouldn’t be eaten after that date. This date simply indicates the peak time for quality. Most foods can be safely consumed after that date with no discernible difference in taste or nutrition.
- Don’t Look for Perfection: Lower your standard for appearance on fruits and vegetables, ignoring those bruises and blemishes. You’ll find that they taste no different from unblemished produce.
- Use Old Produce: We tend to throw out lettuce that’s beginning to wilt or bananas that are bruising. Why not throw them into a soup or smoothie instead? Wilting leaves can also be revived by leaving them in a bowl of ice cold water.
- Portion Control: It has become an American standard to serve big portions. Use smaller plates and serve less to avoid throwing out any uneaten food. It also might help you lose a few pounds!
- Compost: Composting takes your unwanted food and transfers the nutrients back into the soil. You can compost fruit peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, and other items you’d normally toss in the trash.