Waste Not, Want Not

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN TOSSES 20 POUNDS OF FOOD A MONTH. HERE’S HOW NOT TO.

There is a free lunch! On September 19, Tristram Stuart will feed 5,000 New Yorkers a free lunch, using ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away. Stuarts tasty meal (really!), known as “Feeding the 5000,” serves to highlight the fact that each year 1.3 billion tons, at least one-third of all food produced, is wasted. He has put on similar events in cities from London to Nairobi, including items like mango smoothies and potato curry. As a teenager growing up in England, Stuart collected more than 25 gallons of leftovers from his school kitchen each day, along with a van load of leftovers from the town markets, to feed his pigs. He was shocked that so much perfectly good food was thrown out. Ever since, he’s been a leading crusader in the effort to reduce food waste. After publishing his second book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (2009), he founded Feeding the 5000. He recently partnered with the United Nations and other organizations to launch “Think. Eat. Save,” a global initiative to reduce peoples so-called “food print.” A self-proclaimed “freegan” (he gleans food from dumpsters and fields to cat), Stuart still raises pigs.

Why is so much food thrown away?

In developing countries, 95 percent of food loss occurs before food is even sold be¬cause of poor storage and distribution. Most waste in developed countries arises from discarding fruit and vegetables simply because they aren’t perfect or uniform. Groceries reject between 20 and 100 percent of a farmer’s crop for cosmetic reasons.

Why is food waste such a concern?

We’re destroying forests and the world’s remaining natural areas to grow more food, contributing to extinction of species, water depletion, soil erosion and global warming. About 10 percent of green¬house gas emissions from developed countries come from growing food that is never eaten.

What can we do to make a difference?

Most changes in the food industry, such as organic standards, have been driven by consumer demand. We have great power—and responsibility—to make food waste unacceptable. Tell your grocer that you are happy to buy wonky fruits and vegetables.

How to reduce food waste at home:

1) Plan your meals before you go to the supermarket.

2) Keep your pantry and fridge organized. Store and label leftovers.

3) Eat the food that is already in your fridge before making something new.

4) Use leftovers in creative ways: in fried rice or omelets or as pizza toppings.

5) Freeze food that you might not use by the end of its life.

6) Donate extra to food banks or soup kitchens.

If you took all the food wasted by shops, households and restaurants in Europe and the U.S., you could theoretically lift a billion hungry people in the world out of hunger—at least four times over.

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