Food waste is a problem. A BIG problem.
Currently, 40 percent of all food in the USA goes to waste, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and environmental resources lost, and pollution-causing methane emitting from food waste in landfills. Yet one in seven Americans does not know where their next meal is coming from. It’s a big disconnect, and one that we’re working to change at Lovin’ Spoonfuls by rescuing fresh, healthy food that would otherwise be discarded, and transporting it directly to community organizations that feed hungry people.
But, food rescue is only one part of the solution. It’s up to us as a society to be conscious of the impact that food waste has on our community, our country, and our planet — and do our part to make a difference. Today, we’re launching our #HowiRescue campaign to create a conversation around food waste and encourage everyone to take simple steps to cut back on food waste at home. Think #HowiFall or #HowiSummer — but with a mission.
To participate, simply snap a photo of your efforts and share on social media with the hashtag #HowiRescue and tag us, @lovinspoonfuls (Instagram) or @lovinfoodrescue (Twitter) or on Facebook. If you need a little inspiration, here are a few helpful tips to get you going:
1.) Get It On Paper
How often do you really waste food at home? Most people only have a vague idea at best because, let’s face it, we try not to think about it. But being aware of what you actually need and what you toss is the first step in changing for the better. Lists are your friend. For a week, take notes on the food you’re throwing away and why. Did a piece of fruit go bad? Did you get full before finishing your dinner? Then, use that information to make a new plan. Take the time to map out your meals for the week, and hit the grocery store with a list of only the things you need. With a little planning, you can cut down the food you toss by a whole lot.
2.) Embrace “Ugly” Produce
We are conditioned in our society to seek out the most perfect looking produce on the shelves (founder Ashley Stanley has more to say about that here). But that mentality is one of the biggest reasons why grocery stores and farm stands throw away perfectly good fruits and veggies every day! Though that funky looking tomato might not be as photogenic as its symmetrical counterparts, it’s certainly just as healthy. So start adding produce of all shapes, sizes, and colors to your shopping cart!
3.) Put Some Thought In Your Portions
There’s something satisfying about filling up your plate with delicious food. But that’s short-lived if half of it ends up in the trash at the end of your meal. Do a quick check in before serving yourself or ordering at a restaurant to make sure you’re only taking what you need. And keep in mind that splitting with a friend or saving your leftovers is always an option!
4.) Find Creative Uses for Leftovers and “Extra” Ingredients
We love leftovers as much as anyone, but four nights in a row of leftover spaghetti and meatballs can get boring, no matter how now noble your intentions are. Instead, seek out creative recipes that transform your leftovers into something new (spaghetti pizza? Yeah, that’s totally a thing). Likewise, try and use every part of the produce you have on hand. Beet and turnip greens can be used in a smoothie, citrus peels can be candied, and plenty of produce ‘extras’ can be used for veggie broth.
5.) Store Food Properly
Proper storage can add anywhere from a few days to several months to the lifespan of your food, making it easier for you to actually use everything you buy. Check out this helpful guide to learn where, how, and how long to store staple ingredients.
6.) Take Expiration Dates With A Grain of Common Sense Salt
Expiration and sell by dates are how food manufacturers’ communicate when they think a product will taste best, not whether or not it’s safe to consume. When properly stored, many types of food are still perfectly good to eat days, even weeks, past their sell-by dates. Rather than going by expiration dates, use this site as handy guide to help you find out how long your food will stay fresh.
7.) Take Action
Support our work by sponsoring the food we rescue, volunteering for one of our beneficiaries, or spreading the word about Lovin’ Spoonfuls to the markets you shop. Check out our volunteer guide to learn more about getting involved!
We can’t wait to see how you rescue!