January 28 2015 – Robert Fiumara
Did you know that more than a third of all food produced never reaches a table? It’s the shocking reality of food waste. Food is either spoiled or thrown out by consumers and excess food waste adds up to nearly 1.3 Billion tons of food worth more than $1 trillion. Food scraps make up nearly 20% of our landfills and common food waste include grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, egg, meat, and sweeteners. Aside from economic and social impact that food waste brings, there’s also an extraordinary environmental impact that often isn’t considered. The costs and energy that’s lost on the production, packaging, shipment, storage, and disposal of all that food is astronomical. So, you might be wondering as a chef, restaurant owner, or kitchen professional, what you can do to reduce waste.
First, most waste occurs because we fail to plan properly and purchase too much food. When this happens we tend to throw away our leftover food or food that’s not used and goes bad during storage. The second level of food waste occurs in food production and distribution. Food is left to rot in fields or is lost due to transportation errors or spoils in stores that lack the proper storage methods. Chefs can’t really solve the second level of food waste but steps to mitigate food loss in restaurants can be just as simple as putting on your chef’s coat.
The simplest wait to reduce food loss is to plan ahead. Planning menus based around what you already have you in your fridge is an easy and simple way to use up food. If you’re still stuck with leftover food, store the excess in your freezer until you’re ready to use it. Even fresh items like chicken or beef can be frozen for later use. Don’t forget to label bags and containers with dates and the name of the dish. Make sure that you make a grocery list and stick to it when shopping; basing your list around the meals you have planned.
No matter how or where waste occurs, it represents a wasted opportunity to save money, help the environment, and feed more people. By considering steps to reduce waste, you’re helping not just yourself the world and people in general!
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