How Can We Help Reduce Food Waste?

Because I work in an agency that is constantly being bombarded with reports of the growing malnutrition status of not only older Americans but all ages, I think it is insane that in the US we waste roughly 40 percent of all the food we produce. What? Not only that but it also costs us dearly for this waste. About 218 billion is spent on growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that never gets eaten. As it trickles down to us consumers we waste approximately 25 percent of the food which we buy, which can add up to throwing away between $1,000-$2,000 or more per year.

Here are a few ideas for doing our part to prevent waste:

¯ Buy only what you need — Plan ahead, Make a shopping list and stick to it, Be realistic on amount of food you need, Be smart about sales, it’s not a smart buy if you won’t be able to eat it.

¯ Consume the food you purchase – Prioritize, use ingredients first that spoil the quickest, Organize your kitchen, is there moldy food lurking in the back of your fridge or maybe in the crisper? Keep older foods to the front.

¯ Keep food as fresh as possible for as long as possible — Educate yourself on how the food you buy should be stored and in what area of the fridge it should be kept in.

¯ Don’t throw food out before its time — Understand food dates. Labels such as best by, sell by, and expiration (EXP) are not food safety dates; they are established by food manufacturers as an indication of peak quality. When in doubt use your eyes and nose. Find shelf life estimates for just about any food at “Eat By Date or Shelf Life Advise.” Try to get foods in the freezer that are nearing the end of their edible — Find more freezer tips at “Love Food, Hate Waste.”

¯ Try not to stash in the trash — Don’t make more food than you can use or freeze.Eat leftovers; ask for take-out containers when eating out. Share with family, friends or co-workers and compose.

Please remember to contribute toward your OFA nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable at current levels without the support of participant contributions. Be aware that Food Stamps can be used toward your contribution. I do not want to have to make any further cuts to nutrition services. Thank you for your support.

Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious noon meals at several Congregate Dining Sites throughout the county along with a Restaurant Dining out Program. Our Dietitian, Cheryl Walhstrom, RD is available for nutrition counseling in your home at no cost to you. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Call the office for more details and information: 753-4471, 661-7471, or 363-4471.