Earlier this month, the Washington Post published an article about the environmental concerns food waste is causing throughout the United States. Close to 40 percent of the food we grow, raise or purchase ends up in the trash bin, and ultimately, landfills around the globe.
As indicated in the article, over 50 percent of the food waste generated comes from fresh fruits and vegetables that are either deemed “unfit” for sale (because of their size, their shape, their coloration…) or because they have started to decay and are not fit for consumption. Additionally, meat and seafood also fall into this category – a fish certainly tastes delicious when you buy it fresh off the boat, but unless it’s purchased quickly, it becomes waste as it no longer can be safely sold.
Large-Scale Food Waste at Home
The article argues that the highest amount of food waste occurs in our homes and kitchens. Consumers routinely over-buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood and despite storing them in a refrigerator, frequently fail to eat, cook or freeze them before they become inedible. Take a moment and think about your refrigerator.
How frequently do you have to throw food out because it’s inedible?
JoAnne Berkenkamp of the Natural Resources Defense Council contributed comments to the article and asserted that freezing and canning produce reduces food waste significantly. Sufficient research has shown that the modern technology used by commercial food producers to freeze fruits and vegetables results in minimal nutritional losses. Some nutrients diminish due to the quick blanching process required before freezing, but others increase due to the fast turn-around time between picking and processing.
Frozen Vegetables Are More Healthy, More Sustainable
When it comes to frozen produce, consumers have much more time in which to use their purchases. Frozen food will lose flavor and quality of texture, but that typically occurs over many months. Additionally, while “older” frozen food may lose some flavor, eating it will not result in any bacteria-related illnesses that can occur by eating fresh or refrigerated food that is past its expiration date.
Freezing and canning can also reduce waste because the size, shape or color of the produce doesn’t matter. When you’re canning applesauce (or making tomato sauce or freezing peppers or carrots), the “ugly” specimens are just as important as the perfectly shaped ones.
Here at Tommy’s Superfoods, we’re big supporters of reducing food waste and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day for better health! If you want to join us by eating more and throwing out less, here are a few things you can keep in mind the next time you’re grocery shopping:
- A garden salad made with freshly-picked tomatoes and greens is delicious! But only buy fresh vegetables when you know you are going to use them within the next few days, and try to purchase those that are in-season and regionally produced. Support local agriculture by shopping at a local farmer’s market or CSA (community supported agriculture) program.
- Give frozen a try! Frozen vegetables are delicious when used in pasta dishes, soups and stews, and prepared as a side dish or entree! Frozen fruit, whether it’s blueberries, cherries, raspberries, mangos, or strawberries are perfect for smoothies, parfaits, and as a topping on a salad once defrosted.
- Make use of canned produce in certain situations. Canned fruits and veggies often have a high amount of salt or sugar syrup, so caution is needed when purchasing them. However, canned tomatoes are a kitchen staple, and same goes for applesauce.
Get More Information and Tell Us What You Think!
If you’re looking for even more ways to cut back on food waste, read our recent blog post! If you have a favorite tip or suggestion, be sure to share it with us in the comments section or through social media. We’d love to hear how you and your family are making a difference in the fight against food waste.