Feb 20, 2023
With Danielle Todd, Executive Director of Make Food Not Waste.
How often do you go through your pantry and refrigerator discarding perishable food items based on their “sell by” or “use by” dates? Do you rely on those dates to determine whether an item is “safe to eat?” Or, do you pay no attention and regularly eat food well past the posted date? Would you be shocked to learn that those dates have absolutely nothing to do with consumer food safety? It’s true! “Sell by” dates are designed to help grocers manage their inventory and rotate stock on their shelves. It has nothing to do with food safety. As a consumer, the only date you may wish to look for in stores is the “use by” dates. However, keep in mind those dates merely indicate when the product is at its peak for quality and flavor. Although these “use by” dates have little to do with actual food safety, many of us assume that once this date has passed, the item is not safe to eat. Into
the bin it goes, where it will eventually wind up in a landfill, further
contributing to the needless waste of food that could otherwise be safely
Recent statistics reveal that Americans waste 40% of the food that is
grown in this country. Most of that waste comes from consumer homes
and commercial restaurants and stores. Although most of us would
assume that the majority of wasted food comes from restaurants; in reality, the biggest source of food waste occurs at home. But it doesn’t have to be that way and there are simple things we can all do to reduce the problem of food waste. For example, are you familiar with the term “food upcycling?” One of the best ways to reduce our grocery bills is by adopting a “zero waste” strategy and finding new ways to re-purpose items we would normally consider waste in delicious and nutritious recipes.
If you want to learn more about reducing waste through food upcycling and perhaps lower your grocery costs, you’ll want to listen to my interview with Danielle Todd, the Executive Director of Make Food Not Waste.
What You’ll Hear in This Episode:
Danielle’s passion for food waste reduction and more about her background before she started Make Food Not Waste.
How can food reduction be good for environmental issues, especially climate change?
Why has food waste become such a problem for the planet and the community?
About how much food ends up in landfills each year in the United States?
Danielle shares some great ideas for composting and using our food waste in a resourceful way.
What do “sell by” and “expired” mean, and when should we really get rid of our food?
What is methane, and what does it do to the environment?
How much money does the typical family of four waste on unused food each year?
What is food upcycling?
How can someone become part of the Make Food Not Waste community?
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the past few years has been the increased cost of groceries. Grocery prices rose 13 percent over the last year outpacing the annual 8.2 percent inflation rate for all consumer products, according to the most recent Labor Department data. The price of fruits and vegetables increased by 10.4 percent, while milk increased by 15.2 percent and eggs soared by a whopping 30.5 percent. There are numerous reasons why prices rose including supply chain and transportation issues, the war in Ukraine, and extreme droughts throughout the U.S. While we can’t do much to control the increased cost of groceries, we can take steps to ensure that we utilize every item of food we buy and stretch those dollars to the fullest potential.
There are so many ways to maximize our food dollars by taking the scraps we would normally discard as waste and turning them into healthy, delicious meals. For several years now restaurant chefs have been learning to reduce their overhead by doing more with the food that they purchase. Yesterday’s roast chicken dinner may be today’s White Chicken Chili special. The same strategies chefs employ to reduce waste can prove just as efficient in our homes. Be creative, plan ahead when you go to the grocery store, and think in terms of multiple meals you can freeze and store. If you find that you have a surplus of fresh produce or pantry items you can’t use, you can always donate to “Make Food Not Waste” or a local food pantry. Remember that every single day is a gift and the gift we get from learning to upcycle food not only benefits our wallet but it can provide a wonderful gift to others in the community and it may very well help save the environment and our planet. I’m Florine Mark and that’s “Today’s Takeaway.”
“Food waste reduction is considered one of the best solutions to climate change.” — Danielle
“The only date that is required by the federal government to have a true expiration date is on baby formula. So everything else is really up to manufacturers, grocery stores, the state, everyone has different rules, there's a lot of inconsistency.” — Danielle
“Use your senses. If you give it a sniff and it smells bad, don’t drink it.” — Danielle
“When we think about climate change, we really think about transportation energy, and we don’t realize that what we do every day has a real impact.” — Danielle
“The average family of four throws away about $2,000 a year in food that they could eat.” — Danielle
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