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Simple Acts to Reduce Food Waste

1 Feb 2023 2:17 PM | Megan Shellman-Rickard (Administrator)

Simple Acts to Reduce Food Waste, by Marikay Shellman, NFBPWC Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (2022-2024)

A dismal fact: While 1 in 8 Americans- including over 10 million children- suffer from food insecurity every day, we throw away nearly 80 billion pounds of food every year; about $2500 for a family of four of food is tossed into the garbage yearly. ( Most of this food waste ends up in landfills contributing to 11% of greenhouse gas emissions, methane, carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons & nitrogen pollutions.  This waste adds to the energy & resources it takes to produce this food- water, land, soil, labor, processing, & transportation.  We consumers are the #1 source of wasted food (   What Simple Acts can we make?

  • More than 80% of perfectly good food is discarded because we misunderstand food labels such as “sell by”, “use by”, “best by” and “expires by”.  According to FDA, these food packaging labels are “related to optimal quality-not safety” and are generally applied at the manufacturers’ discretion. 
  • Keep food fresh by properly storing.  has an interactive encyclopedia on food storage.  Don’t wash vegetables or fruit before storing.  Cut off tops of root vegetables to extend their shelf life & use greens for making broth.  Store foods that emit ethylene gas- apples, bananas, citrus & tomatoes- separately to prevent the gas from spoiling other foods faster. 
  •  The simplest preservation method is freezing which works with most foods.   Store leftovers in airtight containers & label them to avoid “the guessing game”.  What you can freeze: bananas with peel removed, grated hard cheese, pre-sliced bread, yogurt, low fat milk, Grapes, ginger, chilis, herbs to name a few. 
  • Save bones & vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer to make homemade broth to be used for soups, sauces, & gravy.

The good news is that several states are actively curbing food waste by passing laws that restrict the amount of food waste going into landfills (CA, CN, MS, NY, RI & VT).  Vermont’s “Universal Recycling Law” bans food scrap waste entirely which has increased by 40% food donations to Vermont Foodbanks.  CA, CO, & MS fund private sector composting & food collection programs.  MA & RI introduced legislation to reduce the amount of food waste in schools.  Thank your legislators if you live in one of these states.

USDA & EPA set a goal to reduce food waste by half by 2030.  (

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