I recently read an NRDC report that said 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month adding up to over $165 billion each year. HOLY $#*^. I could get SO MANY JARS WITH THAT MONEY!!!!! So where does all of this food end up? Almost all of it in the landfill where food matter accounts for 16 percent of U.S. methane emissions. Methane, that gas that is driving climate change and destroying the planet…yep, that one.
I come from a mom who comes from a mom that wouldn’t let her leave the table until she finished everything on her plate. I never had that problem (I have always had a hefty appetite) but the idea of not wasting food is one that I grew up with. It just doesn’t make sense. Composting rotten food turns it into nutrient rich soil that you can use to produce nutrient rich food with. DUH! So why send it to the landfill where it won’t turn into anything but gas and wasted space?
I prevent that by saying NO, THANKS to food waste. While some dream of endlessly bountiful fridges overflowing with produce, I pride myself on letting my fridge go bare every week. At 22 years old, I get enjoyment out of scrounging together meals from “nothing” because it means that I have used up everything in my house and prevented any waste. For instance, tonight. My fridge, to many, could have seemed totally empty and a trip to the store or a takeout call would have been in order, but to me there was a big opportunity for a great meal.
Armed with half an onion, some dried peas, a handful of wilty kale, a few shriveled mushrooms, three potatoes that were starting to dry up and some dried rosemary I made split pea soup and rosemary roasted potatoes. Besides being insanely delicious, there is now enough food in my fridge to feed me for the next two days. I’m saving money, time, and preventing wasting food that could have been destined for compost.
Part of living a Zero Waste lifestyle is using up everything I have before buying anything new. The same ideology is applied to my food. By stocking up on staples like rice, dried peas, and dried beans, I can stretch any perishable by challenging when it should be decommissioned and making it into a hearty meal. Then, the only thing I am tossing into my compost are things like potato skins, onion peels, and coffee grounds. What happens to it then? It hangs out with some worms for a while until it is done cookin’ and is used to grow more food or fertilize some awesome NYC flowers. Total win.