As a freelance writer for a few alternative media sites, I’ve been covering a lot of food-waste articles of late, and feel it is a very important issue we could all learn more about and get involved with.
If you’ll click here, you’ll read about France’s recent legislation which is now making it illegal for grocery stores to waste food. In many areas of the world, stores pour bleach on their discarded goods (that are still 60-70% edible and delicious, just ask my friend Rob Greenfield) to deter foragers from scavenging their leftovers.
Obviously this is all done for money, but with 1/3 of all the food produced in the world wasted, this is beyond unacceptable. There are an estimated 805 million individuals presently going hungry every night or unsure of where their next meal will come from, and the amount of food we presently waste could feed them all.
Obviously this is a personal-fault issue as well as an economical concern, but the fact of the matter is that there is no reason why we should not be able to solve the food-crisis issue within the next century. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate – influencing our society in countless ways, and if it were to be put to good use and legislation like that which France passed was enacted globally, I believe it could be done.
But until the political/economical system catches up to the ideals of this visionary and other activists, let’s first focus on what each of us can do to help reduce food waste in the present and help those who currently go without.
1) Donate Your Leftovers
Ah, yes. This is the one you are already aware of and sure you could be better at. Everyone has had a holiday feast where they made too much mashed potatoes and gravy or cranberry relish. Do you send it as the main course for your husband’s lunch for the next week? Do you dump it in the trash? Do you freeze it until next Christmas?
All of these are plausible choices, but one of the best things you might do is to donate it to a food shelter or use an app like this ingenious one and feed someone in the present with the excess your family does not need.
This is a great way to cut to the source of the problem and remedy it with food you may or may not use.
2) Compost It!
Just read this article to learn why compost is one of the greatest things you could do with your leftovers if you garden or have farm animals you care for.
3) Juice It!
Obviously you can’t do this with all things… But a looooooong time ago (when I was living in Arizona and was 18/19), I wrote this post about juicing your compost (if you eat a lot of raw foods and tend to pile up scraps) – and hey, it works!
Many of you were shocked and elated that you could use your excess kitchen scraps and juice them for bonus nutrition.
4) Make Crackers Out Of ‘Em!
When I worked at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, every day we would turn the previous night’s leftover raw soup into crackers using the dehydrator. (Check out some cracker recipes here)
Now, I think you can apply this to other cooked and raw foods you create as well. That excess chili? You can make baked crackers with flour and/or ground flax and spices. That leftover casserole? Throw it into the food processor with ground flax and/or coconut flour (and an egg might work well as a binder)… Spread on dehydrator sheets or bake (definitely if there is egg) until you get crackers you can take to work!
I’ll try and experiment with this suggestion so you can see how it might work, but take it from me: you can make some tasty stuff with your leftovers (jerky, crackers, etc…) that can serve as an awesome snack in the coming days.
5) Be Mindful When Shopping And Take A List With You
Like holistic medicine looks to the root cause of ‘illness’ and seeks to understand the source (cause), so too should we target where exactly most people contribute to food waste the most.
If you’re hungry, perusing the aisles, and don’t have a plan of what it is you’d like to create for dinners in the coming week, you’re likely going to pick up and purchase much more food than you need.
While this may not only contribute to you over-eating (read my piece on psychological tricks for losing weight and feeling great), it will punish your budget and inevitably lead to rotting tomatoes or wilted lettuce in the back of your fridge.
The saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies to this as well.
Have an idea (or at least a rough outline) of all the dinners/lunches/breakfasts you’d like to make the following week and purchase the main ingredients. Before picking up food items you may or may not use, really ask yourself if you need it or not.
If it’s a bag of chips (or four), you probably can put them back and grab some apples instead. Just saying. This is also where you have the power to make quality choices of what you put into your basket and set your journey into wellness off right.
(If you’re not sure how to plan ahead or even what dishes to make, I HIGHLY recommend you check out the 7-Day Menu Plan w/ a BONUS Dessert E-book here. Everything is by-donation, so you can get it at whatever price is right for you!)
6) Pay Attention To Weekly Deals & Discounts From Your Local Stores
I have noticed that many of the foods on sale in supermarkets and your local grocery store are because they are nearing their expiration date. That means that not only do you get a great deal on food that is still delicious and nutritious, you are helping that store minimize profit losses and reduce the amount of food they might dump in the bin.
I think that’s a win-win if you ask me. Stores do deserve to profit so they can continue running and we can obtain the wide variety of foods we love – but we should all work together to eliminate food waste.
They, rightly so, should give good deals on ripening produce to minimize food costs as well, and like France just initiated, donate ALL their expired food to homeless shelters, animals, or compost for community gardens.
There you are! Those are the top 6 tips I have for minimizing food waste – and in effect contributing to a more sustainable, just world.
If you’d like more tips on how to Live Healthfully On A Budget, check out my book “Bloom Raw On A Budget” here. Everything in the store is by-donation, so give what you desire! (Remember, 20% goes to support the non-profit Organics4Orphans – thanks!)
Finally, what are your thoughts? And do you have any more ideas of how we might collectively reduce food waste and equalize the system so all are fed and nourished?
I’d love for you to share your thoughts below. Together we can co-create a more harmonious, healthy, and happy world.