As many of you are recovering from the fair last week, I just want to say a heartfelt thanks to all of the volunteers throughout the community who shared their time and efforts in many ways. As my father says “Many hands make light work” and because of all of you, others have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful exhibition of 4-H and Agriculture in our community.
My topic for today centers around the theme of food, and more specifically, how much food we waste. If you opened your refrigerator today to clean it out, would you find any “science experiments” that have been pushed to the back? Or foods that are past the expiration dates? I read an article this week that caught my interest.
It began by stating that we as Americans throw away about 80 billion pounds of food a year and a study was done at Ohio State to understand why. There were three points to the findings:
1. Food was discarded so as not to become ill, it was old and may have spoiled
2. Food was discarded because it wasn’t fresh and flavorful, may be beyond the package date
3. Consumer behaviors and how they manage their household influence how much food they waste.
In the study, 77 percent felt a general sense of guilt when throwing away food. At the same time, only 58 percent indicate they understand that throwing away food is bad for the environment, and only 42 percent believe wasted food is a major source of wasted money. The researcher went on to say “Only in rare circumstances is that date about food safety, but people are confused about the array of dates on food packages.” The dates on packages are generally used by groceries to rotate stock, not to be confused to say the product is no longer good to use.
They close the article by saying food waste is the largest source of municipal solid waste in the U.S. and the most destructive type of household waste in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Helping people to understand this and to begin to change behaviors is one goal of the study. I might add that planning meals and utilizing “planned overs” (utilizing our leftovers into a different recipe) more often might also be of benefit economically too.
So in closing, talk with your family and make a plan. What is it that you can do to utilize food items more efficiently and save on your grocery budget at the same time? If you have ideas that you would like to share, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org