Forty percent of food produced in the United States ends up cramming our landfills. Much of that waste—about sixty percent—is generated by restaurants and other businesses, but consumers also play a significant role in contributing to food waste. So what can we do to reduce the amount of food we throw out?
In an attempt to answer this question, the Environmental Protection Agency has developed a pilot program called Food: Too Good to Waste. This program is intended to help consumers identify which of our habits lead to food waste and to provide conscientious strategies for buying and eating food.
In their webinar explaining this program, the EPA offers five sample behaviors we can adopt to reduce food waste in our homes:
- Write grocery lists with specific meals in mind. What will you be eating this week? Make a list of the ingredients will you need to put it on the table.
- Eat older food first. Many restaurants and other businesses use this approach every day—they call it “FIFO,” or “First In, First Out.” When applied to food, this means that the first foods you store (the “first in”) should be the first foods you eat (the “first out”). Basically, this helps prevent food from going bad before you eat it.
- Prepare items sooner. This is another measure to help you ensure that food is eaten before it goes bad.
- Buy less at a time. This behavior may increase trips to the grocery store, but if you can steer away from buying food in bulk when you aren’t sure you’ll need it, you will most likely spend less and waste less food.
- Keep fruits and vegetables fresh. If you store fruits and vegetables in their appropriate places in your refrigerator or cupboards, they will last longer.