Think Like a Food Waste Warrior!

Evgeniya Pautova and Look Studio/Shutterstock

Evgeniya Pautova and Look Studio/Shutterstock

By Sally Stovall and Judy Klem

Saving food starts with your mindset. It’s a skill, as well as a passion. Like a muscle, it strengthens as you use it!

Green Community Connections is joining with the Interfaith Green Network and PlanItGreen to study the problem of food waste in our community. We are leading off by reaching out through social media, newsletters, block party show & tell events and sharing resources and videos to make us all more aware of the problem. Please take 3 minutes to watch this important video that highlights some of the problems and potential issues related to food waste.

We can make a big difference by becoming food waste warriors!  We don’t usually think of food being a major source of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, but according to research published in 2017 in the book, DRAWDOWN, edited by Paul Hawken, “reduced food waste” was ranked as the 3rd most effective of the 80 solutions that could actually reverse global warming.

Yet a third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. That number is startling, especially when paired with this one: Hunger is a condition of life for nearly 800 million people worldwide. And this one: The food we waste contributes 4.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere each year. . .  A fundamental equation is off-kilter: People who need food are not getting it, and food that is not getting consumed is heating up the planet.  – DRAWDOWN, p. 42

As the holidays approach this is an important time to pay particular attention to avoiding food waste. Here are some basic strategies that you can try:

Some Basics for Reducing Food Waste:

  1. Shop Wisely: Plan meals, use a shopping list, and plan with your week’s schedule in mind.

  2. Store smart to extend the life of your food.

  3. Shop local or grow your own.

  4. Buy “ugly” fruits and vegetables.

  5. Shop your fridge and pantry first.

  6. Freeze fresh produce and leftovers before they go bad.

  7. Eat your leftovers. Be creative about spicing up your leftovers and ask your restaurant to pack up extra food.

  8. Learn when food goes bad: Most food can be safely consumed well after their "sell-by," “best-by” and "use-by" dates. Smell and appearance are the best way to tell.

  9. Share & Donate: Donate to local food banks or share with friends, neighbors or family-members.

  10. When all else fails, compost!

Check out these websites for fun videos and more strategies and resources for reducing food waste.

Most importantly, have fun, be creative and do what works for you!  We would love to hear stories of your journey to becoming a Food Waste Warrior! Just fill out the form below.

Stay tuned for more on Food Waste in 2019:

  • January - Film showing: "Wasted, the Story of Food Waste"

  • February - Panel discussion with the Oak Park Food Pantry and Partners highlighting initiatives to reduce food waste.