January 16, 2018

Reducing Food Waste During the Holidays

The World Watch Institute has released a paper to help consumers reduce food waste during the holiday season. In the U.S., consumers generate an extra five million tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This includes three times as much food waste as other times of the year. In fact, the food wasted in the United States each year is enough to feed 1 billion malnourished people worldwide.

Food WasteTo help reduce waste, the Institute advises people to be realistic about what their guests will actually eat. The site Love Food Hate Waste offers portion sizing tips. They also encourage hosts to let their guests serve themselves, choosing what, and how much they want to eat.

The National Resources Defense Council supports this stance too. In a white paper, they say that getting food to the table uses 10% of our energy budget, 50% of our land, and 80% of the fresh water consumed in this country. But 40% of food goes uneaten. Food poisoning is another issue. Eating food that has spoiled causes foodborne illness that costs this country millions of dollars every year.

After the meal, properly storing leftovers is crucial to reducing waste. Remember that perishable food cannot be left out of refrigeration longer than two hours or pathogenic bacteria may grow to unsafe levels. Store leftovers in small containers so the food cools quickly and can be used efficiently. Freeze foods after two days in freezer containers. Compost food scraps instead of throwing them out. And think about donating excess canned and dried food to food banks and shelters.

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