How to Minimize Food Waste

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Welcome to the brand new column on Biofriendly Planet known as the Biofriendly DIY! Here we hope to share our best ‘do-it-yourself’ ideas to help you be more green at home. In this first post, we address how to minimize food waste.

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As the world navigates through this global pandemic, we’ve all had to make some important changes in our lives. We’ve changed the way we live, the way we shop, the way we interact with others, the way we keep ourselves entertained and much more. Many of us have also changed the way we view certain aspects of life. For example…food waste.

Regardless of whether you worked hard to minimize food waste before, or not, now it is extremely important to do your part to eliminate food waste. According to an article from National Geographic, even in the best times, “the United States wastes 40 percent of its food annually, amounting to about 63 million tons.” With some people panic buying and others experiencing food insecurity making them worried where their next meal will come from, food waste could get much worse, unless people take key steps to prevent their food from going to waste.

Another key factor, which must be considered, is that news outlets like The New York Times are reporting many of the nation’s largest farms are actually destroying their fresh goods as they are unable to sell them. With many restaurants, hotels and schools closed for the time being, these farmers are unable to sell their goods in the volume they were able to before.

During these times, it’s even more important than ever for consumers to do their part to minimize, or even eliminate, food waste. So, let’s get started with some simple actions you can take starting today:

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Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Planning your meals ahead of time is one of the most important things you can do. Think about it….have you ever gone to the grocery store without having an idea of what you’re going to make for the week? Not only will you spend a lot more time in the store (which is ill-advised, especially while we’re practicing social distancing and trying to minimize contact with others), but you’ll probably end of buying things you don’t really need.

If you plan your meals out at home, then make a grocery shopping list from the plan, you’ll be able to spend less time out and about, as well as get more of the food items you’ll actually use. Meal planning can also save you quite a bit of money, which is something we can all benefit from right now.

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Proper Food Storage

The next thing you’ll want to focus on, once you get all your food back home, is proper food storage. This is true for food items you may have had to buy in bulk, as well as those you just want to have on hand for later meals. Knowing how to freeze food to make it last will help make sure you have fresh veggies and fruits on demand, without having to make do with your existing supply and without having to make another trip to the grocery store.

You can’t just throw everything in the freezer though and expect it will come out okay, especially when you’re dealing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, our good friend Jerry James Stone has come with some very easy (and smart) food storage tips you can use to store and/or freeze your food to make it last longer. Here are some of his videos on how to store food and some on how to freeze food. NOTE: He also has countless, tasty recipes you might want to try.

Drying, dehydrating, pickling, canning and freezing are just some of the ways to preserve fresh food for later. Whatever you decide to try, learning the ins and outs of home food preservation is great way to minimize food waste. In most cases, it’s pretty simple too.

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Grow and Regrow Your Own

One aspect of food waste you might not have considered is growing or regrowing your own food. Growing your own helps give you access to fresh herbs and veggies whenever you need them, and from the comfort of your own home or yard.

You can place an herb garden in your kitchen window or create a full blown garden in your backyard with all kinds of vegetables and herbs.

But, did you know you can take kitchen scraps and turn those into more food? It’s true! It is actually super simple and really smart. Eliminates food waste and gives you access to fresh veggies. Here are some of the food that magically regrows itself.

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

Compost What You Don’t Eat

After you’ve taken steps to properly store and grow your food, you’ll want to compost almost everything you don’t eat (or don’t regrow).

When you think about it, composting is how we recycle our food scraps. Instead of putting certain food items in the trash bin, we can put those food items to good use through composting.

Composting not only helps eliminate food waste, but it assists by giving back to the Earth, improving the soil, saving water, getting rid of pests and creating a complex (yet vital) ecosystem in your yard.

If you’ve never had a compost before now, here are some helpful tips including what to compost and how to compost, as well as some of the simplest composting methods.

We hope this information will help you do what you can to eliminate, or at the very least minimize, food waste. We’d love to hear what actions you’re taking to minimize food waste. Send pictures, tell your story and share the good news with others!

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