It's that time of year again to do the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I think in the intervening 11 months, many of us have stopped focusing on how much food waste we are generating and need a little kick in the hiney to focus on what we are throwing away (or composting). So, let's begin.
You all know the stats: 50% of the garbage that goes into the landfill is edible food. Even if your food goes out into the compost or picked up by your local yard waste service for composting, it's still not only a waste of money, but it's also a waste of energy.
Really, how bad is it? A University of Arizona study showed that 40 to 50% of U.S. edible food never gets eaten. That's $100 billion worth of edible food discarded every year in the U.S.. It's a tremendous waste of resources and one that we are all guilty in contributing to.
There's also a large environmental impact as well if your food waste gets sent to a landfill. Food waste is the largest landfill contributor to methane gas production, so unless your municipality has a landfill-to-gas capture, your rotten bananas and forgotten pickles are contributing to global climate change.
How is it a waste of energy? Because there's a lot of energy that goes into growing and transporting your food (unless you grow it all yourself, in which case the impact is a lot less), throwing it out just means you have to replace it with more food.
Do you have a food waste problem? Most likely you do. This is one of those challenges that we all can and should do. So, now's the time to sign up for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. But, what does it entail?
Well, it's pretty simple. Your goal for the month of February 2010 is to try to reduce the amount of food you throw out or put into the compost. This does not include inedible food waste like egg shells or banana peels (unless you have a use for them I don't know about).
Your job is to keep track of the food that you have on hand and make sure that it gets eaten or preserved before it goes bad and needs to be disposed. All it takes is a little planning, some organization and the willingness to be creative. Just remember to cook wisely and shop wisely.
So, every week starting now, go through your fridge, cabinets and cellar storage and see what's getting close to its pull date or is starting to turn. If it's getting near, plan on eating it, making it into a meal, preserving it or freezing it. Since this is an important challenge that will help you reduce your waste and save money I'm going to host it for the whole month of February.
If you are interested in signing up for the Food Waste Reduction Challenge, add your name to the comments of this post. I'll check in occasionally to see how you all are doing or if you have any food saving recipes or tips to share with others. If you want to put the graphic up on your blog, just paste the following code:
<a href="http://www.thecrunchychicken.com/2010/01/food-waste-reduction-challenge-2010.html"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_8ndgSYbdkZ0/S2R1vWiN-EI/AAAAAAAADRM/ndLZG8JZVCQ/S259/foodwaste.jpg" border="0" alt="Food Waste Reduction Challenge - February 2010" /></a>
One Country's Table Scraps, Another Country's Meal (NY Times)
All About: Food Waste (CNN)
Wasted Food (blog)