Too Good to Waste

Did you know that Thursday, October 24 is Food Day? Every day is food day, of course, but this annual event, supported by a coalition of national and regional food-movement groups, is what they describe as "a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food."

Click on the image above to watch "Wise Food Storage & Prep—6 ways to make your food last longer," a local video on how to waste less food, with Chef Jackie from PCC Natural Markets.


 

Organizations in King County and around the nation hold Food Day-related activities such as dinners and film screenings. Check out the Food Day events finder for a partial list.

Food Day deals with a whole menu of issues, from food production to obesity, but today let's address a problem we can all relate to: wasted food! Check out these 10 tasty tips for reducing food waste, from the King County EcoConsumer program:

  1. Go back in time. Many of us grew up in a time when much less food was wasted. We need to mine our memories and recall the tricks that our parents used, such as your Dad's special soup made from leftovers. Maybe they had a funny (or not so funny at the time) name for it: Depression Soup.
  2. Get motivated. Start by recognizing the impact. Forty percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Lots of that waste occurs outside the home, such as on farms or at grocery stores, but at home the impact hits you right in the wallet. A family of four wastes an average of nearly $2,300 worth of food a year, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.
  3. Don't buy on the fly. Shop from a list rather than "winging it" and buying stuff impulsively.
  4. Take stock. Quickly look through your refrigerator every week, and your cupboards every three weeks. Move the items that are about to go bad, or are nearing their expiration date, to the front.  
  5. Know your storage rules. Follow these great tips from Katy Wilkens (Counter or Fridge? How to Keep your Produce Fresh) on the best ways to store various items.
  6. Click on the image above to watch "Food scraps and yard waste composting at the curb" and let garden expert Ciscoe Morris explain it all to you. Ooh la la!


     

    Shop your garden. Many of us who have vegetable gardens and fruit trees let far too much of that bounty go to waste. Use what you've got and pick 'em when they're prime, even the herbs. If you have extra fruits and vegetables, donate them to a local food bank.
  7. Don't get too fresh. All the fresh veggies, fruits, meats and fish look fantastic at the farmers market or grocery store, but make sure you have a plan for using them (or freezing them). Far too much of that beautiful stuff gets ugly and rots before it gets eaten.
  8. Get everyone at the table. Let everyone in your household know why you want to cut down on food waste. (Save money! Save the planet!) Enlist their help. "Everyone" includes kids, grandkids, and friends who visit regularly. They will be glad to help, because no one likes to waste food.
  9. If you can't reduce, compost! Some food waste is unavoidable, such as vegetable and meat trimmings. Most single-family households in King County can put all those food scraps in their yard waste cart. Use compostable bags in a kitchen countertop container if that will make your collection easier.
  10. Have fun learning more. King County actually has a cool project all about reducing food waste, called "Too Good to Waste." It offers lots more great tips and recipes. Make sure you check out their new food waste prevention videos on that web page, featuring the awesome Chef Jackie Freeman from PCC Natural Markets!      

Thanks for keeping food where it belongs—nourishing us and keeping us going! Questions? Contact King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson at tom.watson@kingcounty.gov or 206-296-4481.

Author Tom Watson is project manager for King County's Recycling and Environmental Services (www.KCecoconsumer.com).