This month as we focus on going further with food, it’s important to learn how to reduce food waste. Roughly 40 percent of all food produced in the United States is wasted. The foods most often thrown out are the foods we should be eating more of such as fruits, veggies, seafood, and dairy products. Billions of pounds of food are thrown away each year in the U.S., which is about 300 pounds per year for the average American. At the same time, about 41 million people in the U.S. are struggling with hunger. We need to turn this trend around.
Reducing food waste starts at home. Simple changes you can make every day make a difference. Don’t hide delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables in the back of the fruit and veggie drawers. Put them front and center in the refrigerator or out on the counter, if it’s safe to do so. That way you’ll remember to eat them. Many fruits and vegetables require refrigeration, except the following:
apples (up to seven days)
Only wash fruits and vegetables right before using, and refrigerate all cut fruits and vegetables. Buy only the amount of fresh food that you will use within three to five days. Keep fruits and vegetables that may quicken ripening separate, including tomatoes, bananas, and apples.
Remember the importance of food safety. Wash your hands before food preparation, and start off with a clean work area, bowls, pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Wash fruits and vegetables before peeling or cutting to avoid spreading the germs from the outside skin. Use a separate cutting board for fresh produce and one for raw meats, poultry, and seafood to avoid cross-contamination. Wash your hands and prep surfaces well after handling any raw meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood. Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove reaches the proper temperature.
Learning how to store food properly and practice food safety can help you go further with food at home. It will save you money, and it will save important nutrients that you need to be healthy. We are all responsible for making these small changes to help reduce food waste and conserve energy and valuable resources.