Here are a few little things you can do to waste less food and, in turn, less resources.
Cutting Down On Food Waste
According to the United Nations, one-third of the all food that's produced in the world goes to waste. I'll give you a moment to let that sink in. … Now, another fact: Though 50% of US land and 80% of US freshwater water goes toward food production, 40% of the country's food goes uneaten. What. A. Waste. The best thing we can all do to turn these truly alarming stats around? Look at our own plates, kitchens, shopping lists, and eating habits.
Here are a few little things you can do to waste less food and, in turn, less resources:
2. Keep bread in the freezer and defrost slice by slice. If you mainly use bread for toast, you'll find this trick impossibly easy, since you can pop a slice of frozen bread right into the toaster. If you use bread to make sandwiches, you can defrost each slice as you need it — it should take around 10 minutes at room temperature for it to thaw.
3. And make use of your freezer by keeping herbs, tomato paste, parmesan rinds, and more. I've already shared my herb trick, but a ton of other foodstuffs can be frozen too! (And bonus points to you if you do so inside the reusable bags I mentioned yesterday.)
4. Track your food waste and adjust your shopping accordingly. The best way to cut down on food waste is to pay attention to what it is you're wasting. Always throwing out spinach leaves? Buy a lesser amount next week. Never getting through your fresh herbs before they wither and die? Chop them and pop them in an ice cube tray with some olive oil, then freeze them for later.
5. Don't be scared of buying the ugly fruit and veg. They're the most likely to be avoided and eventually thrown away. Plus, they (usually) taste just as good as the picture-perfect stuff.
6. And don't be scared of edible stems and peels either. The more you use of the vegetable the better! Carrot tips and broccoli stems are both commonly discarded for no reason, and fresh ginger peel can be reused as a flavor-booster in herbal tea.
7. Avoid over-serving when at home. It's better to go back for seconds (and thirds) than serve yourself too much and end up scraping leftovers into the trash.
8. Invest in products that help your food last longer and try clever food-saving hacks. One my my favorite little life hacks is to keep a sheet of paper towel in with my spinach leaves while they're in the fridge. The towel absorbs excess water and keeps my greens fresh for longer! My coworker Natalie swears by these containers that keep berries fresh for up to two weeks.
9. Learn how to revive food that's a little less than fresh. To bring stale bread back to life, sprinkle it with water and heat it in the oven. To refresh wilted lettuce, dunk it in an ice bath. Lifehacker also has some great advice for making your leftovers taste just as fresh as they were when you cooked.
10. Try composting. I always thought of composting as something Future Gyan would do, when she had a backyard, chickens, a worm farm, and a thriving vegetable patch. I didn't know until recently that I would actually start now, living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan. Learn how to get started composting here.
TL;DR food waste is REAL, but there are lots of easy and practical things you can do to reduce yours. Tomorrow I'm going to be talking self-care routines — think skin-care, grooming, and all the other little things we do to feel good in this ole bag o' bones we were born inside.
Until then, if you want to read more about food waste, here are all the posts I mentioned above, plus a few others you might want to check out!