A Challenge

In the last post, I answered that most vexing of questions: Why should I care about food waste? Given its environmental, ethical and economic impact, the logical next question is: What can I do??

You’ll never guess what my first bit of advice is: Waste less food!

Sure. But how? The short answer is to become a smarter shopper. Here’s another way of saying that: buy less food. Period.

Most of us buy so much food that we almost guarantee we’ll waste food. There’s no way we can eat all that we purchase. The best estimates are that we throw away 25 percent of the food we bring into our homes.

So here’s my challenge to you: buy 25 percent less food in the next few weeks. I bet you’ll end up throwing away (or composting) much less food (although, to be fair, some of that may come from a general increased awareness). And you’ll also be avoiding some serious wasted cash. Whatever happens, let me know!

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11 Comments

  1. Posted March 31, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I found this to be very true especially in terms of produce. Making a more detailed menu plan helped me to buy more appropriate amounts, and more awareness has helped me to use what I do buy.

  2. Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Challenge accepted! :)

  3. Bellen
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    “increased awareness” is the key. In order to know what you waste you must write down everything that is wasted, usually a couple of weeks is enough, and then make changes in your buying or using. Even something as simple as making sure there are no rotten oranges in the bag you buy (thought I did today but no, not the case as there was one) will decrease your waste. I’m going to cut into the orange and salvage what I can and compost the rest.

  4. Posted March 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Kristen, ain’t that the truth. I know you know what I’m talking about.

    Allison, glad you’re on board. Let us know how it goes!

    Bellen, that’s the kind of salvage work I can relate to…Another challenge I’ve thought about is to keep a waste log of some sort. As you said, that would go a long way toward increased awareness.

  5. Posted March 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I make every attempt to use up all my food prior to Passover. Each time I manage to make a meal based on food in my pantry or freezer, it is a triumph! Yesterday I made a soup out of a half bag of peas and instant mashed potatoes – sounds gross, but it was lovely. It takes me MONTHS to use up all the food, because it is terribly hard to resist getting new food when I am picking up fresh produce, or people give food as gifts, or we go out for dinner and don’t eat what I’d planned. looking at a bare cupboard is a rare experience for an affluent American – to me it is a worthwhile spiritual discipline. I will not starve. I don’t just have enough, I have more than enough, bordering on too much!

  6. Posted April 7, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    This is an excellent challenge which makes it so simple for people to make an impact. not only that, but they will be rewarded with saving money – it’s a total win-win. I’ll be highlighting this challenge over the next month :) Keep up the great work!

  7. Posted April 7, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I know what you mean, Betsy. We’re overwhelmed with food at every turn, so it’s hard to resist. And nobody likes seeing a bare fridge or cupboard, so most of us overbuy. Sounds like a valued spiritual exercise, but if you don’t use *everything* before Passover, there is that time-honored tradition of “selling” your unkosher for Passover food to a friend who isn’t Jewish, then “buying” it back after those 8 days…

    Mrs. Green–indeed! It is simple and rewarding to reduce your food waste (as you know). Thanks for spreading the message!

  8. Posted April 10, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Our synagogue also hosts a “Chametz Drive” where people can donate unopened packages/cans of food which is in turn donated to a foodbank. It’s a good way to do an annual clean-out. Odds are, what is left is something that will just age further and then you’d throw it away.

  9. Posted April 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like a fabulous idea, Betsy. All congregations should do that. But there would be plenty of cupboard contents–cookies, granola bars, etc.–that’d be fine on the other end of Passover…

  10. Posted April 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I am a student with very limited finances and the majority of weeks I throw no food away. I accomplish this by planning my meals based on what I buy and food shopping near daily on my 2 mile walk home which takes me past several food shops (and therefore several discount bins!). I also make very good use of my freezer and tend to rely on frozen vegetables because they are cheap and nutritious.

    Sadly, the same cannot be said for my mother. In addition to shopping at the supermarket once a week, she also has milk delivered daily to the door and a weekly organic vegetable box delivered. My brother and father do not like cooking so when she is away for work or has evening commitments, they would rather open a bag of Doritos than cook something from the fridge! It makes me sad because not only are expensive and good quality vegetables ending up on our family compost heap, meat occasionally ends up in the bin. To me wasting meat is criminal: it is the ultimate disrespect to that animal who then died for nothing.

    We went to a homeware store today and looked at fridges because ours is quite old and inefficient and could do with an upgrade. Right now my family has a separate fridge and upright freezer, each with a huge capacity and I was arguing that as I no longer live at home and my brother will most likely have moved out by the time I finish university (2 years from now), she should look into getting a combined fridge freezer as it would save money on running costs and lead to her buying less food.

    She started complaining about how my brother always whinges that there is no food in the house and how if we got a smaller fridge she would have to go shopping more regularly. I personally think she is being a little unreasonable and selfish, but hey, what can I do?

  11. Posted May 2, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    What I like about the empty-my-cupboard exercise pre-Pesach is that it makes me aware of what I already have in my larder (hah! not very kosher) and what I actually need on a daily basis, and motivates me to prepare and eat what I already have on hand. So much of our food shopping is not for food to consume within a few days, but rather to stock up and have on hand. Our survival instincts to fend off scarcity are inborn, but we no longer need to get through winters or shortages in the USA by stocking the root cellar and pantry….

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