Access to food is a basic human right. Though the world produces enough food for everybody, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that over 800 million people go hungry every day, and more people die of starvation every year than those who die from malaria, AIDs, and tuberculosis combined.
World Food Day is an opportunity to learn. It’s a chance to work toward sustainable development on an individual, family, community, regional, and nationwide level while working to achieve #ZeroHunger by 2030. This year’s theme is Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.
This feels incredibly overwhelming. What can one person do to stop mass migration, world hunger, and work toward sustainable development? A lot, actually. An Atlantic Monthly article cites that in the United States, about 50% of all produce is thrown away – almost 60 million tons. The EPA says wasted food is the biggest occupant of landfills. Yet one in six Americans go to bed hungry every day.
We are all responsible for building a better world. Here are 8 tips to reduce food waste and commit to sustainable development:
- Visit your farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets are a unique opportunity to get products that come direct from grower to buyer. They provide only in-season fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Many of the fruits, vegetables, and animal products at farmers markets are more eco-friendly – grown and harvested without, antibiotics and hormones and less pesticides and herbicides. It’s a positive way to support local growers. All of this reduces our carbon footprint, keeps us eating variety, and makes us healthier. And, if the harvest is great, take home extra fruits and vegetables to freeze for the winter.
- Make a grocery shopping plan and stick to it: Don’t be tempted by colors and sales. Don’t shop while you’re hungry. Take the time to look in the fridge and cupboards before grocery shopping, and make a list based on what you plan to cook during the week. Shop the “ugly fruits”. Oftentimes, fruits and vegetables that are soon-to -expire are on sale. They’re great for soups, stews, fruit cakes, smoothies, muffins, and more.
- Organize: So much waste happens simply because we don’t know what we have. Strange colonies of fuzzy green beings grow on our favorite lasagna that’s been hiding in the back of the fridge. Keep leftovers organized on a designated shelf. If you feel there’s a lot of something left over, freeze it, label it with the name and date. Move food with a close expiration date to the front of the fridge. Use it first.
- At a restaurant, share a meal. Or order an appetizer instead of an entree. Ask for the cup of soup instead of the bowl. Ask for half-sized portions. Most restaurants serve army-sized portions that most of us won’t eat. If there are leftovers, take them home in a leftover bag. Put them on your shelf with others and eat them for the next meal.
- Too much of a good thing? How fortunate to have too much. But not so if you end up having to throw it out. Consider donating goods to a local pantry or food drive. After a party, pack up food for guests to take home.
- Go meatless … one day each week. By cutting back on meat once/week (www.meatlessmonday.com), we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Have an Instagram food-scrap meal competition. Instead of posting pictures of “perfect meals”, brag about ways to use leftovers and “what’s-in-the-fridge” ingredients for an equally delicious meal. Change the way you talk about, photograph, film, and promote food. Trend sustainable growth and ways to reduce waste.
- Go technological. Where there’s an idea, there’s an app. What better way to reduce food waste than by downloading an App and, by doing so, keeping food in people’s bodies, not a landfill.
Some countries are making a big difference, reducing food waste. France has banned supermarkets from throwing out food. They are now required to either donate it or compost all expiring foods. Both the United States and Germany intend to cut waste in half by 2030. This all begins, though, with each and every one of us. What steps will you take to reduce waste and support sustainable development?