With 40% of the food produced in the U.S. going uneaten, tossed or left to rot, that translates into approximately $165 billion of food wasted each year! If you looked into your fridge right now, would you find soggy fruits and vegetables, or leftovers that are too old to eat? You’re not alone!
From May 18, through July 12, 2015, the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability Division is hosting an 8-week challenge to do something about food waste with the Food Waste Prevention Challenge.
In fact, during the past month of April, you may have seen Environmental Specialists Courtney Lindberg and Tobie Mitchell talking to residents about food waste at the local Ventura Farmer’s Markets, community council meetings, and other events signing folks up to take the Challenge.
“One of the big reasons the City of Ventura decided to do the Food Waste Prevention Challenge is to educate residents about how much food waste going to landfills,” said Mitchell. “Another reason is to save money,” said Lindberg. “Food waste is very expensive for families. The average family of four will waste about $1,600 of food each year. That’s money that could be put to good use elsewhere.”
Households that participate in the challenge receive a kitchen kit, which includes several useful tools to help them reduce food waste. Each week of the challenge will feature a different topic such as smart shopping, effective food storage, and how to entertain at home with very little food waste. Tips, resources, and other useful materials will be provided to Challenge participants along the way.
“Before you go shopping, we recommend you shop at home,” said Mitchell. “Assess what you already have in your fridge and pantry so that you’re less likely to buy too much or what you don’t really need.”
“You should also shop with a list that indicates the items you need with the quantities you need,” added Lindberg. “When you get home from the store with your fresh produce, that’s the best time to prep your food and store it properly in air tight containers to extend the life of your food. Additionally, when food is easily accessible, you’re more likely to eat it.”
The goal of the Challenge is to educate consumers, reduce food waste through prevention, and help residents save money on their food bill.
“The issue of wasted food is far reaching,” said Mitchell, “it’s not just the food that is wasted, but all the resources that go into growing the food, producing, harvesting, packaging and transporting the food to our tables. It’s a serious issue, and one that we can easily do something about.”
FOOD TIPS TO AVOID WASTE:
- Choose loose fruit and vegetables over pre-packaged produce to better control the quantity you need and to ensure fresher ingredients.
- Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often so you waste less while enjoying fresher ingredients.
- Keep a running list of meals that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose a meal to prepare.
- If salad greens begin to wilt, soak them in ice water to crisp them up before fixing a salad.
- Keeps apples away from other foods. Apples give off ethylene gas, which can cause foods to spoil.
- Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, sauces, pies or smoothies.
- Freeze excess fruits, vegetables, meats, and anything else that won’t be eaten right away.
- Wash berries just before eating to prevent mold.
Keeping food fresh longer means you’re more likely to eat it rather than toss it. The less you toss, the more money you save, and the better it is for the environment.
City residents may sign up for the challenge until May 12th. For more information and to sign up for the challenge, visit: http://cityofventura.net/foodwaste
WATCH the Sustainable Ventura News Story, CLICK HERE.
-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV