We’re all pretty familiar with the food waste problem going on in today’s world, but most of us don’t realize how significant of a problem it actually is and how much of an impact it has on global warming. To help paint a better picture for you, we’ve listed below some alarming figures and facts about just how food humans are wasting that he Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has identified.
- About one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year, (which amounts to approximately 1.3 billion tons) is wasted or lost
- The amount of food lost or wasted each year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (which was in 2009, 2.3 billion tons)
- Every year, consumers in rich countries (like the United States) waste almost as much food (222 million tons) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons). Per capita waste by consumers is:
- Between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America
- 6-11 kg (each) a in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia
- At retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance
- Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food. Specifically, global quantitative food losses and waste per year are roughly:
- 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables
- 30% for cereals
- 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 35% for fish
This amount of food waste leads to a major misuse of resources (such as water, land, energy, labor and capital) and unnecessarily produces greenhouse gas emissions, therefore contributing to global warming and climate change.Food waste also negatively affects food security and resource conservation.
We’ve talked about some things you can do to reduce your food waste in the past, like planning your meals in advance and saving leftovers, but in this post, we’ll be giving you tips on what to do if you find yourself with excess food that is soon to expire.
How to Utilize Your Food
Below are some clever ways to utilize food that is beginning to look past its prime:
- Don’t waste flavorful herbs! Turn them into sauces, like pesto or chutney, that you can enjoy as pasta sauce, salad dressing, or sandwiches spread
- Transform aging fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, apples, strawberries, peaches, zucchini, and carrots by baking a delicious pie, tart, muffin, or cake
- Another great use for aging fruits like berries and bananas is to make pancakes
- Create a dip to enjoy with chips or veggies – like baba ganouj, for example. You can substitute almost any boiled green leaves and/or stalks for the eggplant
- Have leftover rice, wilted kale, and shriveled sweet potatoes? Add some spice and make tacos!
- You can also throw leftover rice into any kind of a soup
- Make home-made jam using berries that are starting to look sad. You can even freeze berries (and any fruit really) to use in smoothies later
- Pickle vegetables like radishes, cucumbers, red onions, carrots, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, jalapeno, and fennel. Pickles give any meal a burst of flavor so you can rest assured that these picked veggies won’t go to waste!
- If your salad leaves are beginning to wilt, sauté them in some garlic and olive oil and serve them up as a side dish! Another great way to use up wilted salad leaves is in an omelet or quiche
- Turn old bread into breadcrumbs that you can freeze and use later to bread anything from eggplant to chicken. You can also use up old bread to make bread pudding, French toast, or croutons to throw on top of a fresh, garden salad
- Use any vegetable leftovers to create a vegetable stock
By reducing your individual waste and managing your relationship with food sustainably, you won’t just save time and money, but you’ll also help reduce emissions by protecting precious resources.
Cutting Back on Food Waste
Despite how wisely we try to shop, we’re all bound to eventually find ourselves with excess food or food that’s nearing the end of its lifecycle. But don’t despair, there are lots of ways to salvage these ingredients and avoid contributing to the global food waste problem. We hope that our favorite ways to use up excess or aging ingredients in the kitchen inspire you to get creative when it comes to reducing your own food footprint.
Cutting back on food waste is one of the many things you can do to help contribute to a cleaner and greener planet. Interested in other ways that you can help contribute to a sustainable future? Be sure to visit our Products page to learn about our environmentally-conscious energy and natural gas solutions.