Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Waste Not Want Not

I've read a couple of articles this past week about how much food the average American wastes. Alarmingly, the figure is something like 40%!! You can read a short article about it right here if you wish. The amount of fresh water and oil needed to produce the food that is just thrown out is staggering.

Why do Americans waste so much food? In my opinion, there are three major reasons:

1. Food is too cheap.
2. Refrigerators are too big.
3. Food being sold in too large containers (i.e. "extra-value-economy sizes").

Here in Switzerland: our food is expensive, refrigerators are small, and food is sold in small quantities. Guess what?

We rarely waste any food.

In fact, I would say I'd be overestimating if I said we throw out food more than once or twice per year. The last time? Last week: I threw out a tiny jar of cloves that had an expiration date of 2002! Other than that, I can't remember the last time.

So, here are some tips:

Buy only the food you intend on eating. If you have have leftovers - EAT THEM the next day, or stick them in the freezer! Don't buy massive containers of food. I mean, do you really need that gallon jar of pimento olives from Costco?

Oh, and here's another tip that I practiced this past Sunday night. Rather than leaving leftovers, just eat until you're ready to burst, fall into a deep coma, and become as one with the sofa in front of the TV until it's time to go to bed.


islandgirl4ever2 said...

Good point! I had NO idea about that, TBF! Here in France, we rarely throw away food but sometimes if we overbuy fruit/veggies at the farmer's market.. I end on throwing some away if they go bad... My hubby and I HATE to throw stuff away, though..

rswb said...

I didn't actually read the article you linked to, but I read something on a similar topic in Australia a few years ago saying that we waste/throw away a huge amount of food. When you read the details, though, it seemed that they counted a lot of food that was put in the freezer and not consumed within a certain amount of time as "wasted". I know there are guidelines about the maximum time you should keep chicken or whatever in the freezer for, but do people really follow them? If I find some long-forgotten stuff in my freezer, I'm pretty likely to eat it eventually.

That being said, the only stuff we throw out with any regularity is the last dribs of a loaf of bread that have gone rock hard before we could get around to eating them. And our Swiss freezer is too small to lose things in.

The Big Finn said...

One article I read actually discussed the huge amount of food that is manufactured but never SOLD at the grocery store before the sell by date. The food is just thrown out and creates methane as it rots in the landfill.