Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fighting Food Waste

A recent study summarized in IFT Weekly discusses the fact that consumers do not understand the need to control food waste.  From the report, only about half of the people surveyed were aware of the issue.  While many feel guilty about throwing away food, many do not understand the impact on the environment or on their wallet.  Interestingly 42% of people said that they do not have the time to worry about it.

I think about the national campaign conducted years ago when people threw garbage wherever, including on the highways.  You might remember it as the Keep America Beautiful Campaign.

While some people are still less than clean, there has been a marked improvement in the amounts of trash dumped on the streets and highways.
To get public awareness, like this topic or the topic of smoking, there was a major media push.  I would expect the same for this. 

But reducing food waste goes against excess purchasing of food...a positive economic benefit for those who sell food.  So who is going to support this type of initiative?

The media has begun to push the topic, but is the message getting across.
In a recent Huffington Post article (where I was able to get a few quotes in), the author discusses warehouse store shopping...a location where people buy big, but also where people may end up throwing out big.  Unfortunately, the consumer is give a pass for the most part.  Consumer have a lot of control over what they buy and what they end up consuming including how much they consume.  Many points were not touched upon. 
1) Buying large quantities leads to making large quantities which either leads to overeating or throwing it out.  Unless you like leftovers.
2) Managing food purchases so foods at home do not go past the expiation date.  Those dates have a reason..and while it may not relate to safety, it will most certainly have an impact on quality.  Who wants to consume juice that tastes like sugar water because it is 6 months past the expiration date?  So people should not purchase so much food that it expires before they eat it.

People have to develop a mindset for the need to control food waste.  It is not only a shame to throw out food, but it waste of money.

IFT Weekly  July 27, 2016
American consumers don’t understand the impact of food waste
A study published in PLOS ONE shows that even though American consumers throw away about 80 billion lb of food a year, only about half are aware that food waste is a problem. The researchers developed a national survey to identify Americans’ awareness and attitudes regarding food waste. It was administered in July 2015 to 500 people representative of the U.S. population.

The study found that 53% of respondents said they were aware that food waste is a problem. This is about 10% higher than a Johns Hopkins study published the previous year, which indicates awareness of the problem could be growing. “But it’s still amazingly low,” said study co-author Brian Roe, the McCormick Professor of Agricultural Marketing and Policy at The Ohio State University. “If we can increase awareness of the problem, consumers are more likely to increase purposeful action to reduce food waste. You don’t change your behavior if you don’t realize there’s a problem in the first place.”

Among other findings, the study identified general patterns that play a role in people’s attitudes regarding household food waste. Researchers found that 68% of respondents believe that throwing away food after the package date has passed reduces the chance of foodborne illness, and 59% believe some food waste is necessary to be sure meals are fresh and flavorful. While 77% feel a general sense of guilt when throwing away food, only 58% indicated they understand that throwing away food is bad for the environment, and only 42% believe wasted food is a major source of wasted money.

In addition, 51% of respondents said they believe it would be difficult to reduce household food waste and 42% say they don't have enough time to worry about it.

In studying these patterns, the researchers see several areas in which to focus educational and policy efforts. “First, we can do things to chip away at the perceived benefits of wasting food,” co-author Danyi Qi, Ohio State University doctoral student. “Our study shows that many people feel they derive some type of benefit by throwing food away, but many of those benefits are not real.”

In addition, the researchers see an opportunity to help consumers understand the negative environmental impacts of food waste. Food waste is the largest source of municipal solid waste in the U.S. and the most destructive type of household waste in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers report. Finally, researchers believe better data on measuring household waste could lead to improvements.

Huffington Post
7 Brilliant Ways To Make Your Costco Runs Last And Last...And Last
Because you’re not saving money (or the planet) if you end up tossing half your purchases.
07/26/2016 06:00 am ET
Landess Kearns Associate Editor, HuffPost Hawaii

As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, HuffPost Taste will focus the entire month of July on simple ways you can reduce food waste in your own home.

In the sky-high aisles of Costco, where you can buy an engagement ring, an inflatable pool and a 3-pound bag of pre-peeled garlic cloves in one fell swoop, going overboard is not only inevitable, it almost seems encouraged.

But in America, where up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten, it’s important to do our part as consumers to help reduce food waste. As part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” project, we decided to explore ways to do just that at big-box stores like Costco.

With a little bit of creativity, there are ways to shop frugally and efficiently at Costco, so you don’t end up throwing food in the trash and money down the drain.

Of course, the most consequential impact on reducing food waste has to come from the grocery stores themselves, but consumers can contribute by shopping consciously and making smart decisions not only for themselves, but for the planet.

Below, tips that will overhaul the way you shop at Costco and make each trip last and last ... and last.
1. Plan, plan, plan.

Martin Bucknavage, senior food safety extension associate at Penn State’s Department of Food Science, says consumers should abide by three overarching rules when shopping at big-box stores: Plan, Manage and Avoid.

Since planning is the first rule, map out what you are going to buy before you head to Costco. This way, you won’t end up with any surprises in your shopping cart. “Only buy what you need,” Bucknavage told The Huffington Post. “That means taking a quick inventory of what you have and buying what you will use in a reasonable amount of time.”

It sounds like a no-brainer, but skipping this step can lead to an overflowing pantry and fridge ― and perfectly good food doomed to the landfill.

2. For produce, only buy what you need.

Once you’ve come up with a game plan, you’ll have a much better idea about what you won’t be able to consume. Two dozen nectarines sound delicious while you’re in the store, but if you’ve already decided on a plethora of other fruits, it’s likely many of those nectarines will go to waste.

And if you can’t finish the produce you buy at Costco, you might as well spend your money elsewhere, such as a local farmer’s market, rather than throwing perfectly good food (and money) down the drain.

“A fresher, tastier local lettuce may cost more, but if you actually eat the whole thing, you’re not saving money with the big box stuff,” Cinda Chavich, author of The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook told HuffPost.

3. Always keep your freezer in mind.

When buying in bulk, your freezer is the real MVP.

For Megean Weldon, author of the Zero Waste Nerd blog, that means making room for food of all kinds. She buys bananas in bulk, for example, so that when they ripen simultaneously, she can freeze them and have them on hand for banana bread and “nice cream” in the future. She also freezes berries in bulk to extend their lifespan.

“Strawberries and blueberries go bad quickly,” she told HuffPost, “so I freeze them on a baking sheet first, so they don’t stick together, then transfer them to glass jars where they will keep for many months.” The best part is that you can buy berries when they’re in season (and at their tastiest) and use them throughout the year in smoothies, baked goods, jams, and jellies.

Basically, if your freezer isn’t on the verge of bursting, you’re doing it wrong.

4. Steer clear of certain products.

There are some items in big-box stores that you most likely won’t be able to finish before they go bad.

For Weldon, that’s especially true with certain spices. “Almost always, the spice will lose its potency before the bottle is empty,” she told HuffPost. “How much clove do you really need?”

Bucknavage suggests avoiding items you’re trying for the first time, would only eat in small quantities or would tire of quickly. For instance, a big tub of hummus or package of smoked salmon ― as appetizing as they may seem ― will spoil quickly once opened. So if you’re not planning on eating it daily, it’s best not to buy it in the first place.

5. If you accidentally buy too much, share!

It’s easy to justify buying six heads of lettuce for $4.99. But unless you’re eating salads for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, there’s a good chance that half of it will wind up wilting before it makes it onto your plate.

So when the price is just too good to pass up, remember to keep your food out of the trash by keeping your social circle well-fed. “The reality is you’re not getting a deal (or saving money) if you buy too much and throw half of it into the compost (or horrors, the garbage),” she told HuffPost.

Split your bag of lettuce with a friend or bring half of your massive carton of cherry tomatoes to the office. You can even set up a deal with friends and family to get reimbursed, but if you don’t get paid back, find solace in the fact that giving produce away is so much better than throwing it out.

6. Don’t ignore packaging dates ― but don’t swear by them either.

Don’t get us wrong, expiration dates exist for a reason. But many of the dates printed on packages are easily misunderstood. In the U.S., billions of pounds of food get thrown out every year just due to expiration date confusion.

Believe it or not, there are probably a lot of foods you’ve thrown away before you needed to. Educate yourself on expiration, sell-by, best-by and use-by dates so you know just how long you have to consume each food item before it drops in quality

7. Store things the right way.

You can lengthen the life of food items by storing them correctly, making buying in bulk highly cost-effective and majorly efficient.

For instance, Weldon says she buys flour in large quantities, but stores it in the freezer to prevent it from attracting bugs or going bad.

Bucknavage emphasizes keeping your storage areas spick and span. “Once mold becomes an issue in your produce drawer, it can get onto the other items and cause more rapid deterioration,” he told HuffPost. “The same goes for dry storage. Keep those areas clean and dry. It is easy to get mold, or mites, or moth larvae in a storage area that is not managed and not kept clean.” All of these issues can lead to food spoiling more quickly.

He also recommends transferring food into airtight containers to increase its lifespan. Repackaging things that will stale, such as cereal, can make food last longer and prevent bug infestations as well.

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