The Thanksgiving holiday is about giving thanks for what we have, sharing time with family, though this year it will not be the usual family gatherings, and enjoying food – lots of food! This year, take some time to learn about food waste and how you can prevent it at your holiday table!
Why Food Waste?
According to the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA), 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted. Food waste starts from the beginning of the food chain until food reaches our plates. Spoilage that occurs in fields, during packing and transport can account for as much as half of that number. Food waste that occurs at the consumer level makes up the rest. Food waste in our homes occurs when we buy more than we can use, and foods goes bad, or when we serve more than people can eat, and we throw away the leftovers. The USDA, in concert with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have set a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent, by 2030.
How Can You Reduce Food Waste?
As we prepare for our Thanksgiving feast, give some thought to ways you can help reduce food waste.
- Develop a shopping list for your holiday meal
- Only purchase food in the amounts that you need to feed your guests
- Checkout produce that might not be as pretty but might be a reduced price – this prevents stores from throwing it out
- Keep food stored, at all times, at the proper temperature
- Avoid over-trimming produce, an ugly leaf isn’t unsafe to eat
- Heat food to the proper temperature to avoid overcooking, which can lead to waste or undercooking which could make food uneatable
- Serve “smaller” portions, allowing people to ask for more
- Package leftovers in small containers to allow food to cool quickly; this also helps when serving the food, the next time
- Freeze any portions that will take you more than 3 to 4 days to serve again
- Remember to keep food safe by packing it up within two hours of serving
- Dispose of leftovers properly
For more tips on ways to reduce food waste, look at this Food and Drug Administration handout.
The Food Waste Hierarchy
When it comes to the leftovers from our meals or the food that goes bad in our homes, there are some good guidelines on best ways to minimize the impact of food waste on the environment. Municipalities all have varying rules on recycling so it is important to check what your community allows but a good guide is provided by the USDA. In this diagram you can see that while composting is a desirable way to get rid of leftovers the best way to minimize food waste is to only use the amount of food you need. Begin changing how you think about food waste by thinking about the top of this diagram.
To Your Health!
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all that we have! While this year has been a Bit Challenging, take time to reflect on all that is good. Hopefully one of the things you will reflect upon is your health! This Thanksgiving remember to #WearaMask #WashYourHands and #WalkBack6Feet
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.