Think about all the food you consume in a day. Now think about what portion of that food you toss out. The night before garbage collection, most families and businesses take a look into the refrigerator to see what food has passed its prime. Sometimes we feel as though it’s impossible to eat everything we’ve purchased. We buy way too much and most end up in the trash. The quantity of food wasted in America alone is mind boggling. America generates more than 34 million tons of food waste every year! The only waste we produce more of each year is paper, and neither amount is something to be proud of.
At least a good amount of the paper waste can be recycled. Less than three percent of the food thrown out is being recovered and recycled. Only three percent. The other 33 million tons are now just sitting in a landfill, taking up space. Not only does wasted food affect the economy, but it also impacts the environment. Both families and businesses like spending lots of money on food. We can all take steps to reduce the amount of food waste being sent to landfills and incinerator sites and save money at the same time. Below are some tips that will help to reduce the size of the food waste mountain:
Always store foods in the refrigerator or the freezer at the right temperature; keeping your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below will help keep food fresher for longer. It is important to maintain a freezer temperature of 0 degrees F or below for food to freeze properly and to stop or prevent bacteria from growing. The most perishable items, including meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, should be stored in the coldest sections of the refrigerator. Don’t over crowd the refrigerator since this will lower the inside temperature and air needs to be able to flow freely to cool foods properly.
Store refrigerated foods in airtight plastic wraps or containers to maintain the quality; this also helps to keep foods from drying out and preventing odors or flavors from transferring from one food to another. Make sure to avoid using containers or plastic bags that are not made for storage, and do not reuse plastic bags.
Keep the refrigerator clean, spoiled foods and spills provide an environment for bacteria to grow in and possibly contaminate other foods. Remember that cooler temperatures do not prevent bacterial growth, they only slow it down.
Plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list, this way you will be more inclined to only buy what you need, instead of buying on impulse.
Don’t throw leftovers away, refrigerate them so that they can be used to make another meal later in the week, and remember one can always be creative with leftover food!
Keep a close eye on use-by dates and make sure to prepare food before its expiration date, this can eliminate a large amount of waste. Storage conditions in the pantry should be dark, cool and dry with a temperature between 50 to 70 degrees F, the higher the temperature, the faster the deterioration. The pantry should be as far away from the oven, stove, water heater, and dishwasher as possible.
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