I barely brushed the surface of combating food waste in a recent article, but the comments added so much to the article that I thought I could stop at just one. And then I found some more statistics. In the U.S.:
- We waste 40 percent of edible food
- It costs $750 million just to dispose of the food we waste
- And when you consider the extra costs of packaging, transporting, and storing wasted food, the overall cost of wasting food goes up to $165 billion.
On the other hand, fruits usually emit more ethylene gas and need low humidity settings. Some vegetables, like peppers and mushrooms, prefer low humidity. In general, foods that emit more gas usually have a shorter shelf life.If you don't store your greens in the high humidity drawer, you can wash the greens and wrap them in damp paper towels. That makes them last much longer. Tomatoes get mealy when placed in the refridgerator. So when we have a garden, I leave the tomatoes on the plant as long as possible. When we don't have a garden, I let the supermarket be my storage unit for tomatoes. But if I must store them at my house, I do my best to eat them quickly. If not, I may store them in the refrigerator. Consider the temperatures of different parts of the refrigerator. The door is warmest, so foods with lots of sugar, salt, or vinegar are fine on the door. Milk can be kept on one of the middle shelves. Since the bottom of the fridge is coldest, keep meat there. My leftovers get stored in a selection of containers, but my favorite ones are clear glass. Why? I waste much less food when I can see what's in each container when I open the refrigerator door. Along with all these other tips, one more method of food storage extension is to not wash your produce until you're ready to use it (with the possible exception of greens). Products to extend produce life Other than storing items properly, using up produce quickly, and selecting quality produce in the first place, there are also other ways to extend the life of produce. The BluApple absorbs ethylene gas which hastens ripening. When used in fruit bowls, dark areas where you store potatoes and onions, and produce drawers in the fridge, it triples the life of the produce - at least, that's the claim. I haven't used this product, so I can't say for sure. It costs $19.90 for two BluApples and a 12-month refill kit. Tupperware sells another option. The FridgeSmart containers regulate airflow and have ridges on the bottom to prevent the fruits and veggies from sitting in condensation. I have used these. Not only do they keep my fridge organized, but things like celery seem to last much longer. A four piece set is $84, though you can purchase different sizes individually for less than $20. Some people choose to fight food waste by allowing the supermarkets to store the produce for them. I think that's a great idea, but I live 15-20 minutes from a decent-sized grocery store. Also, we're going to be growing more of our own food this year which means I will probably (hopefully!) have lots of produce life to extend.
Many factors increase food waste which means there are many factors to improve to decrease food waste. Which methods do you use? Do you think you waste as much food as these statistics say you do?