Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I have read that up to 47% of all food in America gets tossed in the trash. I know you are probably thinking that's impossible. I did! First, think of the waste at the farm, then in transport and finally the processing plants or the grocery stores. There's tremendous waste at the restaurants, buffets, and hotels. Lastly, the food we throw away in our own homes.
I'm not going to list specific facts because it's so easy to google the information. Click images and you will see tons upon tons of tossed out food. What I do want to list is the actions I take to lesson this waste.
1. Stop throwing away food. Sounds easier that it actually is! This requires a certain amount of fore thought about the meals I cook. If I cook too much, what do I do with the leftovers. In addition to just eating them again for lunch or another dinner, I will either freeze them to use at a later date or remake them into an entirely different dish. Eventually I will be posting some recipes where I do this quite creatively and with tasty results!
2. Realize the value of what is being wasted. If $20.00 worth of food were thrown away this week, it would be the same as ripping up and throwing away a 20 dollar bill. My husband and I work far to hard for our money, and we work very hard to stretch that money as far a possible, than to just toss it in the trash.
3. Teach my children to appreciate the real value of what we spend our money on, not just food. I believe this is very important so that they will be able to succeed more easily once they leave home. I don't want them to end up buried in debt before they graduate college because they were not taught how to be frugal. I also want them to be conscious consumers, and pass that information on to their children.
4. Now for the bigger picture. I am very fortunate to be able to volunteer for an organization that reclaimed approximately 3 million dollars worth of food last year and distributed it to over 2,500 persons weekly through 25 programs including food pantries and soup kitchens. This is food that is at or near it's expiration date, or is just over stock. It comes from many groceries stores, a dairy, an orchard, bakeries, a health food store and miscellaneous other stores. It is all edible food that would have been thrown in the trash if this organization had not organized ways to reclaim it.
Twice a month, and usually with the help of one of my teenage children, I drive 70 miles round trip to collect food that has been reclaimed and set aside for our small community pantry. We usually have two or three vehicles that caravan together. After the food is collected we go back to the pantry, unload, organized it all, and then it is immediately distribute to families and individuals who need it. With the economy the way it is, the list of people who come to the pantry has been growing pretty steadily. I take home bread, produce and misc. food items to help feed my own family and I feel I am more than compensated for the 140 miles and 10 or so hours a month I volunteer. This has been such a tremendous blessing for my family. Not just because of the food it has provided us, but the opportunity to serve our community in such a basic and necessary way.
Soon I will tell you exactly what I do with that food once I bring it home and the impact it has had on our lives. I encourage you to see if such organizations exist in your own community or start one yourself!