Tonawanda News — Have you ever been cleaning up after a meal and been surprised at how much uneaten food you are throwing in the garbage? With my husband on the list to be furloughed later this summer, this is something I have been thinking about. How much food and money am I throwing out?
Unfortunately, I am not alone. American families throw out 14 percent to 25 percent of the food that they purchase each year. The USDA reports that 40 percent of fresh fish, 23 percent of eggs and 20 percent of milk is thrown out by the typical American. This is from buying too much, letting food spoil and general food waste.
That’s roughly $1,350 to $2,250 the average family is throwing away each year. If you include the food that is thrown out in restaurants and grocery stores plus the produce that farmers leave in the fields it adds up to 40 percent of the food produced in the United States going to waste.
It’s hard to think about the one in five kids in America struggling with hunger every day. So what can you do?
To prevent food wastes in your home try to:
• Shop with a list after you have made your weekly menu.
• Be creative with leftovers.
• Freeze produce and leftovers to use at a later date.
• Compost at home.
• Donate food to your local food pantry.
To prevent food wastes in our community:
• Buy fruits and vegetables that have a mark or are misshaped.
• Request smaller portions at restaurants.
• Encourage your local farmers and government officials to promote gleaning initiatives.
Leftovers can be a tricky meal for some families. I like to rework my leftovers into a completely new meal. Leftover lean meat is made into stir-fry dishes with lots of vegetables served over brown rice and leftover vegetables are made into omelets or quiche. Homemade soup and stew is also a great way to use up leftovers. The secret to making leftovers not taste like leftovers is adding spices and trying new spice combinations.
Jennifer Grier works with Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play. It is a five year grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. The grant aims to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases among the people of Niagara Falls by making it easier to be physically active and to eat more healthy foods.