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Fighting Food Waste

I’m going to hit you all with two heavy facts. These two sentences aren’t very pretty and they’re definitely not going to make you feel good. But listen, I’m not spewing this out to guilt you—or me, as I have just as much blood on my hands—I’m just hitting you all with two heavy facts because without facts there is no perspective, and without perspective there’s little change.

Fact One: 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat.

Fact Two: Approximately half of all food is wasted worldwide.

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To list off the reasons for this would be like trying count the number of stars in the sky. That being said, some of the greatest contributors are the gross consumerism culture of supermarkets, the lack of knowledge on how to properly store foods, the seductive lure of impulse shopping, and so on, I’m not here to lecture anyone on why this crisis has gotten so out of hand. Truly.

But, I would like to bring to your attention a debate going on among those working to eliminate waste. Namely, should more be done to prevent food waste, or collect and use what is wasted?

Obviously, both are of huge importance to controlling this situation. This is why I believe that composting is hugely vital and should continue to be encouraged, set up, and taught—particularly to the younger generations. What kids learn in school, they’ll bring back home; prevention is of absolute necessity.

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Okay, so that’s pretty vague Laur, what are we preventing? How do we prevent? Who are you to tell me to prevent? Honestly, I’m a girl who’s had more than her fair share of spoiled food and I’m just learning how to prevent now, but if I can do it so can you. While there is little you alone can do to prevent the institutionalized waste that is pervasive in this country, there are some simple changes you can make in your everyday life to greatly reduce your personal waste. For some quick tips, keep reading.

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Step #1: Plan ahead.


Grocery lists are for wimps, huh? If you ask me, falling into the trap of a seductive box at the supermarket or a flashy sale is far wimpier. Why? Extra cost aside, because you and I both know that not even half of those impulse purchases are getting consumed fully. When you get exactly what you need, particularly if you have the luxury (and yes, I acknowledge that it’s a luxury but if you have it use it!) to buy in smaller quantities, you end up avoiding that bummer of a situation when you have to throw out half of your Costco purchases.

Step #2: Store correctly.

Know which fruits and vegetables to keep in, which to keep out. Refer to the chart below or just flat out Google it, no shame, most people don’t know these things because, hell, nobody told us!



Step #3: Cook what you need.

I can assure you, the kids, the housemates, whoever! They won’t go hungry. You don’t need to make enough for seconds… or triples… You don’t need to even make enough to store the next day because leftovers never get eaten with the same vigor as food fresh off the pot – any disgruntled mother can tell you that. Play it safe, and in the end your wallet and your world will thank you.

Step #4: Eat up! (Or store leftovers, but come on, you’re cooking what you need right?)

Step #5: Recycle/compost whatever’s left

Hopefully there’s nothing left over, but it’s actually a pretty hard feat because it involves changing everything we’ve been raised to think in regards to food: more is better, have seconds, eat what you like, love what you eat, etc. And those mantras are well and fine but if these four steps (and this final step) could just remain at the tip of our conscience every time we went to the grocery store or even just the dining hall, I think we could make a pretty drastic change…

A simple effort, that’s what it’s all about—and remember: love food, hate waste.

-Lauren Samuel

Cover image source.

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