Let’s Talk Trash!

landfillDo you focus on feeding your family or yourself on a tight budget? Do you think about using the food you purchase before it spoils? It’s no secret that many of us toss food or let it go bad in the kitchen for a number of reasons. I know in our home, I work hard at reducing as much food waste as possible. I believe this behavior was learned during low financial stability as a college student and other life experiences. More recently, after seeing the statistics for the amount of food wasted by our nation, I’ve been committed to reduce our food losses.

If I can share some of those stats with you then maybe, just maybe your home can help decrease the nearly 40% of American grown food that ends up in landfills. Let’s look at how much we waste and how we can reduce some of those numbers, starting today!

What is the cost of food waste on our nation and households?

According to current research from 2010 we threw out an estimated: 1 Billion Pounds of food in the US and 2 Billion tons worldwide.

In 2012, up to $2,275 worth of food was being thrown out for a family of four, each year.

Food wastes come from many levels such as farming, farm to retail, retail and finally to us, the consumer.

How did the consumer level contribute to waste are:

  • Spillages, bruising, excessive trimming  Inadequate storage
  • Seasonal factors, uneaten or left over holiday foods 
  • Confusion with use-by, best before dates on products

Which foods contributed to your pocket book? 

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.54.53 PM
Graphic courtesy | USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov

Who contributed the most waste? Percentages by user from food disposal data for the US in 2010.

44% Residential, 20% Full Service Restaurants, 13% Quick Service Restaurants, 11% Grocery Stores, 10% Institutional and 2% Industrial

What can you do to reduce waste?

  • Plan (plan a weekly menu, and create a list. Use what you have at home, only buy what you need.
  • Safe (shop cold foods just before you check out)
  • Check (avoid dented cans, and expired foods)
  • Store (store food properly, use an app to track foods or magic marker to date foods)
  • Organize (clean the fridge, keep it organized to reduce food waste)
  • FIFO (First in, First Out, rotate foods with newest dates to the back and use older products first)
Adapted from ChooseMyPlate.gov/lets-talk-trash

Campus Tips:

Eating: At our ‘All You Care to Eat’ dining locations, keep your portions in check and go back for more if you are still hungry.

Purchasing: Do you have Grab-n-Go items and left overs for your mini fridge or breakroom fridge that you didn’t finish? Try creating a reminder on your phone or outlook calendars to use at your next meal.

Shopping: Go to the store not hungry, with a plan and a list.  Frequent trips per month may mean less spoilage and foods used more effectively.

Preparing: Turn left overs into new food items such as wraps, stews, soups, casseroles and more.  Make a plan to use your fresh dairy and produce in a timely manner.   Buy dried, frozen and canned foods (low sodium and in natural juices) for convenience and storage.

Websites to Check Out:

Helpful Apps:

  • Love Food Hate Waste
  • Food Keeper

Hospitality Dietitian Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD   mindy.diller@ttu.edu 

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