The priciest food in the world isn’t Beluga caviar or Kobe beef. No, the most expensive food in the world is what spoils before you eat it.
Think about it: Some 30 to 40 percent of food in the United States—an estimated $133 billion each year—is wasted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,. That means $30 to $40 of every $100 spent at the grocery store is thrown out. Discarded. Kaput. Not eaten. Over a year, that adds up to a hefty $1,500 to $2,000—or about the amount of money to buy:
- A first class round trip ticket from Washington, DC to Hawaii
- A new laptop, a new tablet and a new smart phone
- A top-of-the-line new bike
Food waste is wrong on many levels. Aside from taking a big bite out of your wallet, it adds to landfills, which in turn produces more greenhouse gases that can impact the climate. Plus, as a WTOP radio listener pointed out to me after I went on air to discuss this very issue, the food we waste could feed all the hungry people in the United States. Got your attention?
So what can you do to help cut down on food waste?
- Keep your ‘fridge at 40 degrees or below, the optimal temperature for storing food. Most newer refrigerator models have built in thermometers. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a thermometer, buy one for about $10.
- Use frozen and canned foods, which have a much longer shelf life than fresh produce and are nutritionally identical to their fresh counterparts.
- Cut back on fresh herbs and spices—unless you know you will use them within a few days. Sadly, I’ve sometimes been guilty of over-ambitious cooking plans and not enough time. The result: pricey herbs that have gone brown in my ‘fridge. My solution? Now, I stock a combination of fresh herbs that I know I’ll use within days, frozen cubes of herbs and spices along with jars of dried and freeze dried varieties.
- Divide and conquer. Although our family is shrinking, I still buy family packs of chicken to save money, but I repackage at home. Some goes into the fridge. The rest gets wrapped in individual packages and frozen. It allows us to reap the rewards of bulk buying without wasting food.
- Act like the CEO of your kitchen. Plan ahead for grocery shopping. Think about what you really need. Check stock before you shop and always have a shopping list.
- Discover which companies and organizations are stepping up to the plate to take the government’s Food Waste Challenge 2030. Learn how your organization, school or company can join the challenge too.
So, what are your tips to stop food waste? Share your ideas by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love getting e-mails and answer as many personally, as time permits.
Last Updated: 2/11/2014