Dumpster dive to avoid wasting food

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Thanks to Romuald Bokej for this photo of food found in a Swedish dumpster.
  • Thanks to Romuald Bokej for this photo of food found in a Swedish dumpster.

Grist.org's Umbra takes on food wasters with a few tips (including dumpster diving):

... what I am sure of is that when we waste food, we waste other precious resources along with it. In a recent study conducted at the University of Texas, researchers determined our food-tossing equals the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil per year. And that’s an admittedly low estimate, as the researchers used a 27 percent food waste rate to make calculations.

“Of course, as we here at Grist rant weekly, we pay for that kind of food in other ways—skyrocketing medical costs, environmental degradation, and the abuse of animals and farm workers. Now we can add the waste of precious fossil fuels to that list,” writes Bonnie Azab Powell.

From farm to fork, whether it’s plate waste or overproduction waste, it’s high time we reign in what we waste. “Waste not, want not,” goes the old saying. This is especially important as global oil prices fluctuate and drought and other unfavorable growing conditions for staple crops like wheat persist this year.

Consider pre-gleaning food at super markets that might otherwise end up going to the landfill. Yes, I mean freegan Dumpster diving! Composting is another great way to keep food from just being wasted and sent to the landfill, where the oxygen-free setting produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Start composting your own food scraps and regenerate the soil instead. Check out my video on countertop composting and this Grist composting slideshow.

Waste-cutting expert Bloom says it’s also good to plan meals ahead of time, make a detailed shopping list, don’t go for impulse buys, and make sure you actually eat your leftovers. Also, the freezer is your friend and will keep things longer, as long as you remember to eat them.

Umbra wants to know how you avoid wasting food. (But maybe you should read the entire article first, which you can do here.)

And, about that food waste: In 2009, The Economist reported:

In many countries one of the side effects of the second world war was to breed a generation that could not abide waste. Newspapers, jars and string were diligently saved and reused. Glass bottles were returned to their makers. Most importantly, though, food was never, ever thrown away. Leftovers were recycled into new meals, day after day. Fast forward to today and things have changed. There are reports of rich countries throwing out 25-30% of what is bought. Add in what never even makes it to the cupboard or the refrigerator, and the scale of the problem is considerably larger.

They found that the average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. That amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the country as a whole—about 40% of its food supply, up from 28% in 1974. Producing these wasted calories accounts for more than one-quarter of America’s consumption of freshwater, and also uses about 300m barrels of oil a year. On top of that, a lot of methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) emerges when all this food rots.

Read the rest of this article here.

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