November 16, 2016

Plan a “no waste” Thanksgiving

Did you know that nearly half of all food in the United States is thrown away before it is consumed? The way we produce, use, and waste food creates nearly one-third of U.S. carbon emissions. Per-capita food waste has grown by about 50 percent since 1974, and yet there are 50 million people in the United States who don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis. So this holiday season, get in the habit of buying only what you plan to eat. Check out this great Thanksgiving Food Planning Calculator to help you plan exactly how much food you need to buy.

 

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste. Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons). Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Food waste that goes to the landfill breaks down anaerobically and produces methane; methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • In 2008, the EPA estimated that food waste cost roughly $1.3 billion to dispose of in landfills. (Journal of Consumer Affairs)
  • In 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food-insecure households. Economic Research Service
  • Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year. Natural Resources Defense Council
  • According to an estimate by Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fresh produce go unharvested or unsold each year. Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Reducing food waste by 20 percent would provide enough food to feed 25 million people. Natural Resources Defenses Council

 

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October 14, 2016

2015 Cool Congregations Challenge Winner – First United Methodist Church

 

 

 

first-united2 first-united first-united-3

 

First United Methodist Church of Omaha Nebraska wanted to educate the congregation on everyone’s own complicity in global warming. How to get congregants to look at their own lifestyles and become aware of our impact on the environment.

They decided to help the congregation become aware of how much greenhouse gas was produced by food waste that is in the landfills. They worked with a company that has a vermiculure process (worms) to compost food waste in Omaha. Many bulletin inserts, meeting, presentations, and posters in the narthex later, they started to sign families up to begin bringing their compostable bags of food to church on Sunday. The goal was 50 families.

Their eco group was blown away by the 65 families that signed up to bring their food wastes to church. Their pastors invited the Kim Morrow Nebraska IPL director to preach and had a children’s message with real red wigglers to explain to kids (and adults) the process. The kids were both grossed out and all wanted to touch the worms. They also had a forum for all the adult and youth Sunday school classes about environmental stewardship. All of this on their first Sunday of collecting food waste! Now, seven months later, up to 80 families are participating and filling the 500 gallon drum weekly with food waste.

Their church’s eco team wanted a project that would educate about the need to change our lifestyles to be more sustainable. The need to be accountable for our own individual and community responsibility for green house gas production. Food waste was the means to an end. People, who signed up to bring in their bags of food waste, were amazed at how much food was thrown away each week. One 80+ year old was being helped with the ten pound of food waste she brought one week (she collects from all of her condo neighborhood) and she said, “This is such a fun way to make the world a better place.”   They have had two other area churches ask for their process and plans for this composting project.

First United Methodist Church entered this project into the Cool Congregations Challenge and WON $1,000. If you have a great project going on at your congregation enter it into the 2016 challenge an you could win your congregation $1,000!

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October 7, 2016

Ugly produce. Food not trash

imperfect-produce

 

How often do you go into the grocery store and marvel over the gleaming array of perfectly sized and shaped fruits and vegetables. What happens to all the produce that does not look as nice? In America, 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables grown don’t fit grocery stores’ strict cosmetic standards — the crooked carrot, the curvy cucumber, the undersized apple — usually causing them to go to waste.

About 25% of produce is wasted in the U.S. before it even reaches the grocery store! This is mostly due to strict cosmetic standards from large grocers that dictate exactly how their fruit and veggies should look. This equals about 20 billion pounds of good, healthy produce left uneaten because it doesn’t look pretty! If produce fails to make the grade for size, shape, or color it’s deemed  “ugly” and unsellable.

There is a movement happening in this country that is getting us to rethink the way food should look. We are resisting the idea that to be nutritious food has to look beautiful. Not only that but the 20 billion pounds of nutritious but ugly produce can be used to feed the almost 50 million people are food insecure and almost 90% of us (over 270 million) are not eating enough fruits and veggies in the U.S.

There are ways we can make ugly produce a desirable product instead of an unwanted outcast. Stop Food Waste’s The Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Campaign has pushed large food chains like Whole Foods and Walmart to sell produce that does not fit industry standards. Support the stores that are selling the ugly produce and send emails to the stores that are still rejecting produce.

Look for local farmers and CSA that sell ugly produce. For instance Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service, sources from farms with produce that would be thrown out for cosmetic reasons. If we support programs like this we can stop billions of pounds of fruits and vegetables go to waste on farms across the U.S. per year.

Faith groups have taken up this food waste issue. In August Bethel Lutheran Church in California celebrated Ugly Food Month. They dedicated time during service to speak about why we should celebrate ugly food and ended their month with a potluck of ugly food dishes.

Jordan Figueiredo at the @UglyFruitAndVeg campaign they list more ways we can help reduce food waste by educating and changing policy around ugly food

  1. Everyone – Buy It and Talk About It
    Purchase imperfect (sometimes “ugly”) fruit and veg: at the farmers market, though a home delivery service like those above, at supermarkets or wherever you can find them. Talk about the issue and share your “uglies” pics with your friends and the world at my various @UglyFruitAndVeg social media accounts.
  2. Grocers – Sell It and Educate
    a. Put more pressure on our nation’s grocers to accept responsibility in this matter. You can do this here.
  3. Schools – Buy It and Educate
    a. We need our students, our youth, to eat more fruits and vegetables, right? What better way than to educate them to love ugly and save money while their school buys cheaper, but imperfect, fruit and veg! In many ways, produce shaming is parallel to body shaming and bullying – we should be teaching our students that produce can be imperfect and still beautiful.
  4. Governments – Support Farm to Food Bank
    You can also ask your state government if they support farm to food bank programs (or if they can start such a program or support them further).

 

 

 

 

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October 2, 2016

A few Ideas of how you can reduce your food waste

Make careful decisions about what and how much you buy at the grocery store.

• Shop at stores that offer misshapen food at a discount.

• Purchase prepared meals at the deli or salad bar, which allows supermarkets to make use of imperfect produce.

• Buy frozen foods, which suffer fewer losses from farm to shelf.

• Shop often. Start with a large trip and then make smaller follow-ups to buy a few days’ worth of produce at a time.

• Buy fresh food at local farmers markets.

Americans spend about as much at restaurants as they do at grocery stores.

• Skip the cafeteria tray. Diners who use trays waste 32 percent more than those who carry their plates in their hands.

• Take home leftovers.

• Share side dishes to keep portions under control.

• Ask the waiter to hold extras such as bread and butter you don’t plan to eat.

• Encourage restaurants and caterers to donate leftovers.

Small changes in the kitchen can reduce the amount of food your household throws out.

• Use FoodKeeper or other apps for food-expiration reminders.

• Switch to smaller dishes to control portions. The standard plate is 36 percent larger than it was 50 years ago.

• Eat leftovers on a regular night each week.

• Give uneaten food a second chance. Freeze or can extras. Blend bruised fruit into smoothies.

• Try not to waste water-intensive foods like meat.

Businesses, schools, nonprofits, and governments can all find ways to dump less food.

• Bring back home economics classes to teach cooking, canning, and storage basics.

• Get your school to join the USDA Food Waste Challenge.

• Ask your local government for a curbside food-scrap collection service like that provided in roughly 200 U.S. communities.

• Share the bounty of your home garden with your community through ampleharvest.org.

Posted by in Food Waste, Uncategorized and tagged as

October 1, 2016

What do we waste most

food-waste-infographic

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