According to a study by the NRDC, 40% of food in our nation goes uneaten, and American households throw out 25% of the food they buy.
In California, food waste is the largest contributor to waste, making up almost 16% of its landfilled material. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, six million tons of food, enough to fill the Staples Center 35 times over, are sent to state landfills annually. The vast majority of grocery stores and restaurants throw away discarded food rather than donate them.
These are disappointing statistics in a state where 5 million people cannot get enough food to survive and food banks face up to 60% reductions in food supply.
While waste and food spoilage is a natural part of the process, there are steps Californians can take to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away at home. Properly managing and storing food can increase the life expectancy of many foods, allowing for longer shelf life and less spoilage. Proper meal and shopping planning can reduce the amount of food that needs to be purchased, and proper cooking portions can reduced the amount of food that is leftover after a meal.
Some simple ways make your groceries last longer:
- Ethelyne absorbers can absorb ethylene gas emitted by fruits and make them last 3x as long
- Plastic bags can trap ethylene and make some fruits spoil faster
- Wrap cheese in paper or wax paper, not plastic wrap
- Mix berries in vinegar water solutions to make it last an extra few weeks
- Use Mason jars instead of plastic tupperware
Learn more about how to compost your food waste instead of landfilling it.