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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Food Waste Reduction Challenge 2010

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?

The Rules
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>

Related reading:
One Country's Table Scraps, Another Country's Meal (NY Times)
All About: Food Waste (CNN)
Wasted Food (blog)

56 comments:

LatigoLiz said...

Another reason I like having the chickens and goats. Sometimes they can eat certain leftovers before they go bad enough to compost. The horses, not so much. But those chickens are living the high life with kitchen scraps!

Farmer's Daughter said...

Count me in, though I may be eating more than usual this month!

The Mom said...

I've been far too guilty of food waste lately. The chickens are getting quite fat on what we've neglected to eat. Better planning and less impulse buying should solve the problem. The chickens will be sad though.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Yeah, I've composted way too much formerly good stuff in the last month, including our uncarved halloween pumpkin-curses!
I'm in.

Megami said...

Count me in as well - I think I have found the next thing for my 'give it up for 2010' challenge! (Forrest Family) I must admit composting has one downside - I probably throw out more than I should thinking 'but it's okay, it's going in the compost, it's not like it's a waste'. But it is.

blepharisma said...

I'm in! I've never done one of your challenges before, but I'm going to do my best with this one!! I've got the image on my blog, for some added pressure!!

Wonder-ful said...

We've been trying to throw out less in general (in other words, I'm secretly yelling "yay" inside for seeing this challenge).

Julie said...

Having spent the last month not buying any food except milk (for my coffee which I had stockpiled ;-)) I had to eat what was in my store cupboard, fridge, freezer or winter garden. It's not so bad and it's a great excuse for not pulling out all the stops when attending a potluck.
We probably all have more food in our houses than we are really aware of. I think it would take me more than a month or two to actually go hungry but a much shorter time to get bored so I guess that's the trick... how to keep meals interesting. Count me in.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Coount me in. I have been to lax in using what I have. I recently discovered I had some sort of powdered sour cream and onion mix from atleast 5 years ago. My goal for Feb/March is to clean out my pantry and freezer so I can restock it this spring with all good, and labelled foods and rotate through my stores,so I am wasting less.
Good Challenge I am going to add the button and a link to my page (if I can figure it out).

Jackie said...

I would like to do this challenge as well. I find we're having to throw away too much forgotten food from the fridge.

Mel said...

Crap, of course I am in, and have backslid on this issue WAYYYYY too much and am glad you are doing this now.

Melissa in Chicago

Sandy said...

I'm in! I always try not to waste our food, but I'm not the most vigilant person when it comes to the refrigerator. Maybe this will make me more aware of my timing issues. Thanks!

Aimee said...

I have a three-tiered system for avoiding food "waste":
1. leftovers
2. pigs and chickens
3. compost

My guilty secret is that rare occasion when I clean out the fridge. Not only does a lot of old food get dumped, but it gets dumped right in the container!!!!

I often don't scrape, wash and recycle! I justify it by being a fairly obsessive recycler the rest of the time.

mudnessa said...

This is something I always try and do but fail miserably. I hate making lots of trips to the store for fresh ingredients but when I try and stock up I waste so much so I end up eating junk food and actually creating more waste. I really need to re-vamp the way I do things but I don't really know how to go about it. I've never really learned to shop I think that's why. So sign me up and hopefully I can learn some tips or something.

utahlawyer said...

Count me in.

Anna in Atlanta said...

I'm with Latigo Liz -- my chickens will even eat the banana peels if I cut them into bite-size pieces. Worth the extra 2 minutes to turn peels into eggs!

Michelle said...

Rabbits love banana peels - just a what-for.

I'm in, by the way, though we seek to do this daily. What actual food waste we have goes to our chickens, at least, and non-food compostables are composted.

cindy24 said...

Count me in. I have slipped and am sending more food than I would like to the compost bin. Does the food my kids don't finish from their plates, but the dogs eat count?

Chard Lady said...

I'm in! I don't think that I will have that much waste when combined with my February Dollar a Day challenge.

Dea-chan said...

There actually is a use for eggshells -- it's just incredibly laborious. Wash your eggshells, crunch them with like a potato masher, toast them lightly in the oven, and then grind finely. You can add this to breads to add protein to your nummy homemade bread!

Ellen said...

I'm in!

Angie said...

We're in -I've been doing this already for a couple of months.

Krista said...

Count me in!

kidk4m said...

Count us in.

One thing that has been helping me reduce food waste is to freeze the soup/beans etc. that I make in smaller containers. I found that I was freezing food in qt containers-and then would only use half...leaving the rest to sit in the fridge often until it had to be thrown away.

Even though we do compost, I still feel a twinge of guilt when what I'm composting is wasted food vs peelings etc.

Condo Blues said...

I'm in. Last year, we only had one thing we had to toss. I accidently knocked the top off the miso paste in the refrigerator and it dried out. Into the commpost it went.

This year we are going for zero food waste.

Lise said...

I'm in. My fridge is scary right now, and it's the time of year when those stored root veggies and apples really have to be watched! I'd better run through it all out while it's still January! (kidding)

SarahW said...

I'm in!

For the people with chickens - how do you get them to eat kitchen scraps? My chicken is a very picky girl and won't eat most of the scraps and even then only wants the freshest bits. (She does eat eggshells though - eggs too if I don't catch them quickly.)

Oldnovice said...

I'm in, as well. Parties for my daughter this month and last had me buying too much and then forgetting about the excess once the party was done.

Should be interesting leftover recipes in February.

SusanB said...

I'm in.

Hippy Goodwife said...

I'm in . I think we do a pretty good job of not wasting food, but there is always room to improve.

Luschka said...

We are horribly guilty of food waste - or shall I say we were. Our new years resolution was to reduce food waste and we have done exceptionally well! I am going to continue the challenge (we called it 'Eat through the Kitchen')into February, and hopefully in to the rest of our lives! So, I'm in!

Kristen said...

I love a good challenge!

karen said...

Please count me in-this is just what I needed! I start a winter CSA this week and planned on combining that with my freezer stash for the next 3 months. I am trying to use up, or freeze leftovers. Making lots of veggie broth with veggie trimmings for soups and then freezing in cubes and containers. I do not have chickens or other animals to eat food waste so I compost but I also throw stuff out in the winter and it bothers me to do so. I want to reduce the waste and be more thoughtful about food planning. Thanks for the challenge!
Karen from CT

Renee said...

Something I go in cycles of being good and bad with. But a reminder will help!

Robj98168 said...

Like Renee I seem to go in cycles

Sign me up!
Signed,
Mr. Nellie Olson

Jenni said...

I'm so IN! This is tailor made for me, it's something I really struggle with. I must be more organized, and really menu plan wisely ;)

Maria said...

We have been doing this for a while, but our answer has always been to "give it to the chickens...they eat everything". Now, we will be a little more careful. Count us in, please.

Carla said...

Trying again this year. Hopefully, we'll do better this time around.

Linda A said...

Sign me up for the food waste reduction challenge 2010. My chickens eat all of our food waste except onions, citrus and coffee grounds - and those go into the compost. That still can be too much waste, though, and I vow to reduce it.

Linda at Citizen Green

Heather said...

This is such a great challenge, and I am really excited to talk to my family about this. We have always really tried to stay focused on our food waste, but you are right, it is time for another serious evaluation.

Joules said...

I'm in, too!

Debra said...

is it too late to join?

MaddyG said...

I've never signed up for one of your challenges before. But count me in for this one!

Butternut said...

I am finally de-lurked, and I am in.

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, but I'll throw my hat into the ring for this one. Can't promise stellar performance, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?

angela jiniel said...

I'm in! I have to learn to eat the veggies lurking on the bottom of the veggie drawer!

fearlesschef said...

I'm back on the bandwagon of no waste with my guns a-blazing! It's about time, I know!

bodygeek said...

Alright, this year, I'm seriously going to do this. I live alone, I have no one to blame but myself for my waste... This might be the last February I can say that, so... game on! Doh! that means I have to eat that giant bin of lettuce in the next two days! unless feeding it to the bunnies counts as not being wasteful? Also, this means I need to set my compost up again.

Adrienne said...

I am all over this challenge... it's a pretty easy one for me. I'm too poor to throw away food! Occasionally I do forget about something at the back of the fridge so this month I'll make an extra effort not to have to throw any floppy carrots into the compost.

Sonja said...

This is a great challenge

Vern said...

I'm in, Deanna! My family was never very wasteful. I always take leftovers for my lunch at the office instead of going out to eat. If we have more than lunches will use up, we occasionally have a "leftover night," and eat leftovers for dinner instead of cooking. I'll confess that we occasionally let something get buried in the refrigerator and overlooked it until it was too late.

After reading Jonathan Bloom's Wasted Food blog, http://www.wastedfood.com/, several months ago, we've tried to be extra diligent, and have hardly thrown anything away. A challenge like this is great, because it will help maintain the focus even more! I'll link to this on my blog, and hopefully find a few more challengees!

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

Great post. I knew as Americans we waste a lot of food, but those statistics are pretty eye-opening. I hate wasting things, so I'll definitely make extra note to focus on this the next few months.

Urban Thorn said...

I'm in, I don't think I've really thought enough about my food waste... except when I forget that i've hidden leftovers in the back of the fridge, yuck!

Garden4Life said...

Count me in also. I have chickens who help with our leftovers, but I just don't like wasting period. Over the years I've actually reduced or eliminated certain food/meals because we just weren't managing the leftovers well. Cornbread is one them. We will eat it fresh, but when it comes to leftovers, we fail. So, I fix just enough for that meal. Same thing with any sort of beans too.

Allie said...

I'm in for this. I do a weekly accounting of my food waste in my blog (seidhr.blogspot.com), as part of the group of people who participate in "Food Waste Friday" (which originated with The Frugal Girl).

I had a no waste week this week, but usually there manages to be a couple items that still sneaks by me.

Paula said...

I'm just catching up on posts and a little late getting started, but I'm in. This is great timing for me because I know I have been slacking off in this area. I'll definitely be looking to drastically minimize my food waste (hopefully eliminate it). I think I'm going to have to start making a couple of extra stops at the store during the week. I've had a hard time with making one larger shopping trip a week. If I buy enough fruits and vegetables to last the week, they've been really going bad before the week is up. And often something comes up during the week and I don't end up needing leftovers because I won't be home to eat them. Buying for only a couple of days at a time will help me with that.

Luckily there is a store within walking distance of my office I can go to on my lunch hour so it won't require an extra car trip.

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