[1]

What’s Wrong With Leftovers?

It’s hard to believe I’ve been married to Tyler for almost two years now. It seems just yesterday we exchanged our vows and moved into our farmhouse. As a new bride, I was determined to put a new and exciting dish on the table each night for my husband. I was convinced we could have a family meal together at the same time each night -- late nights in the field quickly killed that dream -- but I still tried to make new recipes for our little family.

Admittedly a bit green in the kitchen, I was cooking for Tyler and myself the family-sized recipes my mom used for her five-person family. Needless to say, there were a lot of leftovers. So, I would freeze half of what I made to eat later and send the remaining leftovers with Tyler for his work lunches. This has saved us a lot of time and money, as I’m able to pull out a pre-made dish from the freezer, and Tyler has been able to have home-made hot lunches at work.

The same goes with the garden -- I’ve learned to can and freeze to save some of our excess produce for the wintertime. To me, it’s financially savvy to do so, and it’s nice to have food stocked up for winter, when the weather can make it hard to get to town for supplies.

Saving food just makes sense, but apparently, most Americans skip leftovers and dump their food in the trash.

As reported in the LA Times [3], “Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40% of the country’s supply each year – a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year, or 20/lbs./person/month.

“Since the 1970s, the amount of uneaten fare that is dumped has jumped 50%. The average American trashes 10 times as much food as a consumer in Southeast Asia, according to the NRDC. Such profligacy is especially unwarranted in a time of record drought, high food prices expected to get higher, and families unable to afford food, according to NRDC. Efforts are already in place in Europe to cut back on food waste. But American consumers are used to seeing pyramids of fresh produce in their local markets and grocery stores, which results in $15 billion annually in unsold fruits and vegetables, according to NRDC.

“Half of American soil and many other key resources are used for agriculture – NRDC says wasted food eats up a quarter of all freshwater consumed in the U.S. along with 4% of the oil, while producing 23% of the methane emissions.”

Read the full report here. [4]

One in every eight Americans goes to bed hungry at night, yet we are throwing away almost half of our food. That’s a shame, especially at a time when food prices are rising, poverty is increasing and agriculture is working hard to efficiently meet consumer demands.

Do you find the statistics of how much food is wasted in the U.S. startling? What steps do you take to minimize your food waste?