38 million tons. 76 billion pounds. That is how much food goes to waste in America, annually. Worldwide food waste is an even more horrific number: 1.3 billion tons (2.6 trillion pounds). Let that sink in for a moment. Roughly 40% of all food is thrown away, never to be seen again. This is a serious problem. There is such a beautiful thing in this world that seems to be ancient to so many people – leftovers. Never heard of it? It is a good idea to invest one minute of your life into finding out what exactly leftovers are.
Most people are guilty of throwing away some portion of their food on a regular basis. Whether that is a whole plate full, half a plate, or just a small portion of the meals we cook, it all adds up. Food waste also accounts for molded bread, the yogurt that expires, and the meal you are “all set” with at a restaurant. What ends up happening in all situations is people resolve to merely toss the remains into the rubbish. Unfortunately, there are in fact many countries around the world of which the people would do just about anything for just a small amount of food. Instead of wasting food, every last human being should think twice before disregarding extra food remains.
The next time you walk into a cafeteria and fill up a plate of food, be sure you are going to eat everything you pile on. All it takes is a little bit of planning ahead of time. Know exactly how hungry you are. The next time you order a pasta dish at a restaurant, ask to take the remains home with you instead of waiting the other half of the meal. And finally, the next time you buy a loaf of bread, be sure to actually use it all before it grows mold.
It is rather common to not care about wasting food because we do not have to worry about when our next meal is going to be. All residential college students are all on meal plans, and therefore can all eat at just about any time, without having to think about it. In some countries, people do
not have the luxury of “all you can eat” food. This is a serious epidemic that everyone must really consider.
Before you go to a restaurant or the dining hall, take a minute to ask yourself how hungry you really are. Listen to what your body is telling you. Start with less food than you need on the plate, and if you end up wanting more, go back for more. It is so easy to grab two or three plates of food when it is right there in front of you. But it is easier to just take one plate and go from there. Also, be sure to stay hydrated. Drink a full glass of water before eating so you will feel fuller, and thus, you will not be tempted to grab unnecessary amounts of food, just to end up throwing it out.
Leftovers can taste just as good as the original version of whatever meal it is you made. If you eat at a dining hall, bring a small container and package up whatever you cannot eat. Heat it up in the microwave at a later time.
When you are at the store, be smart about what you buy. Only buy what you need. Make a list and stick to that list as if you’re being paid for it. Make sure to buy dairy products that will not expire for at least a week. Then when you get home, organize all your groceries by expiration date; upcoming dates in front and longer dates in back.
Next, and this is a huge one, when you are just about done with a jar of peanut butter, do not close it up and recycle it until there is literally nothing left. The residue amounts that builds up on the sides usually is enough to last for at least one or two more sandwiches or snack. Know that food products with expiration dates can typically be prolonged by placing them in the freezer. The same goes for fruits. Eat your apples, pears, and bananas to the core. There really is no need to throw away perfectly good food. Eat as if you know in the back of your mind that each meal could very well be the last for a while. Now that does not mean to binge eat. Just know that you might be blind-tossing food or drinks when there is more to consume.
If you come across a can of beans, corn, or any other food good that you realize you will never eat, take the initiative to donate it. Bring it to a food kitchen, your school, or your work. If there is no food drive going on, start one!
By simply being aware of this food epidemic, we can save hundreds of pounds of food from going to waste. Everything adds up. Spread the word to your friends and family. Make it known to them that America leads the world in food waste. Do not be a contributor it. Do your part to save the environment, and those not so fortunate as us.