Food waste: how to reduce food leftovers and do good for the planet

Food waste: how to reduce food leftovers and do good for the planet


The climate crisis is now a real global emergency ; a November 2019 document published in BioScience, produced by a global team of researchers and signed by 11,000 scientists, also ratifies it. For this reason, it is increasingly urgent to implement concrete measures to reduce pollution and safeguard the planet, as also stated by Thomas Newsome, PhD, professor at the University of Sydney and co-author of the document “Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected. Even if things go wrong, all is not hopeless. We can take steps to address the climate emergency.” Among the actions that can make a difference there is alsothe fight against food waste : at least a third of all the food produced , in fact, ends up in the garbage (some estimates speak of 40%), which is equivalent, according to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), to 1,250 calories per person thrown away every day. It’s like walking out of the supermarket with five bags of groceries and leaving two in the parking lot.

Wasted food pollutes three times

Food waste hurts the planet three times over. Indeed:

  1. along with the food, the water, carbon dioxide and land used for its production are also wasted. Uneaten food that ends up in a garbage can, therefore, is itself a waste of resources;
  2. food thrown away increases waste , which must be disposed of, generating pollution;
  3. once food begins to rot, it produces methane gas , contributing to pollution according to the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ). Suffice it to say that this gas is the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.

    Useful strategies

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization , more than 40% of food waste occurs at the retail and consumer levels, meaning everyone can do something to make things better. Here’s where to start.


    To do good for the planet it is also important not to make mistakes in separate waste collection .

    These are the food bacteria to know and avoid.

    Here’s what happens to eating chicken raw .

    Buy and eat “ugly” fruit and vegetables too

    Fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers (such as sweet potatoes , radishes , carrots , etc.) have the highest wastage rates of any food: peaking at 40-50 percent. The reason? People are rather superficial when it comes to picking and choosing the products to bring to the table: they may not buy an apple due to a harmless defect and that apple will end up in the trash. To combat food waste it is important to stop placing so much emphasis on appearance and consider all the good that is inside food.

    Use all parts of vegetables

    All parts of vegetables can be used for cooking: fighting against food waste also means reducing waste as much as possible . The leafy greens found on the tops of vegetables like turnips , carrots, and beets, for example, are edible and good for you: They can be sautéed , used to whip up pesto, or stirred into a homemade veggie burger .

    Go shopping more frequently

    Try not to buy too many perishable foods together , such as berries , seafood , tomatoes , lettuce and fresh herbs : buy them in small quantities, increasing the frequency with which you shop. That way, you’ll be more likely to use them before they go bad.

    Once a week, then, rummage in the refrigerator in search of leftovers or food that is about to go bad and make creative preparations , combining different nutrients and ingredients.

    Organize your refrigerator and pantry well

    Apply Marie Kondo’s tidying method also to the pantry and the refrigerator, in order to know exactly which foods you have, where and what their expiration date is (short-term and more perishable ones should be put in front so that they are more visible). If these places are not organized with care, chaos can ensue, which is a friend of waste. To reduce the problem, also try organizing foods by groups , for example beans , pastas , soups , cheeses , meats , etc.

    Make a weekly menu

    Establishing a weekly menu is an excellent strategy to limit food waste. In this way, in fact, you will be more likely to buy only what you really need , as well as having a varied diet. After you have laid out the plan, compile the shopping list. Going to the supermarket without a list of what to buy is a big risk for the planet and your finances.

    Store food properly

    There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to storing certain foods, which can promote their spoilage. Here are some tips for storing food.

    • Olive oil : buy it in a dark bottle and keep it in a cool, dark place, don’t leave it on the counter or near the stove. Don’t even store it in the fridge.
    • Nuts and seeds : They’re full of healthy fats, which is one of the reasons they’re so beloved, but those same fats can also go rancid if not stored properly. Place the dried fruit in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.
    • Eggs : do not use the egg holder located in the refrigerator door because it is repeatedly opened and closed, causing the temperatures in this part of the refrigerator to fluctuate. Eggs are best stored in the back of the refrigerator , which always stays cold.
    • Berries : Store berries in the refrigerator to make them last longer, and don’t wash them until just before eating them.
    • Flour : Use an airtight container and keep it in the freezer if possible. But if there’s no space, the refrigerator is fine too.

    Even consuming meat in certain ways helps the planet .



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