Did you know that on average, Americans throw out between 30 and 40 percent of the food that is produced in the United States? Food waste is a problem for us economically, environmentally, and socially. Families can help address this by learning about the issue, making changes at home, and taking part in a challenge.
Problems Caused by Food Waste
On an economic level, when we throw out food, we not only throw away hard-earned money, but we are also wasting valuable resources. Environmentally food that rots in the landfill, emits methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more dangerous than C02 and is rapidly adding to the warming of our planet. Socially it is a problem because, while many of us are buying more food than we can eat, many people in our community are going hungry.
Reasons for Food Waste
Food waste occurs throughout the food chain, and for many different reasons. Agricultural food waste can be caused by overproduction on farms, crop damage, or rotting in stores. But household food waste is the number one contributor of all food waste, and is normally caused by overbuying, improper storage, and confusion about “sell by”, “best used by” and expiration dates.
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How Families Can Help
Reducing food waste is not a trend. Just like public appeals to quit smoking, recycle or to wear seatbelts, it is a shift that must occur. So, what if you could turn reducing your family’s “foodprint” into an activity that would teach your children valuable lessons in protecting the environment, managing money, healthy eating and giving back, while also being able to save yourself time and save money?
Food Waste Challenge
If you are up for a challenge, The Hudson Valley Food Waste Challenge, will do just that. The challenge is designed to bring awareness to the amount of food your family is currently throwing out, and to teach strategies that will help you waste less. It will make you mindful of what gets trashed and show you how by making small shifts in how you shop for, prepare, and store food, you can save time and money, and help make the world a better place.
If you are a parent, you probably see your kids wasting food all the time. It is either because their eyes are bigger than their mouth or they love bananas one week and the next they don’t. The food waste challenge is a way to start meaningful conversations with your kids on a variety of different important topics. Your kids will come away with a greater appreciation for where their food comes from, the costs it takes to produce, food insecurity, and the negative affects wasted food has on the environment. The goal is to have everyone think twice before we buy, and before we toss perfectly good food. By changing our children’s behaviors now, we can make a lasting difference for future generations. (For ideas about collecting food scraps, and how the food waste topic can even work into green birthday parties, see these Mommybites articles.).
Food Waste Goals
The United States Food Waste Reduction Goal is to reduce food waste by half by 2030, the UN Global initiative is to do it by 2050. As families, wouldn’t it be great to do our part to support these efforts as best we can? Each one of us by ourselves may feel there is nothing we can do about climate change, but I promise you, together we can make a difference.
How to Take Part
The Hudson Valley Food Waste Challenge is a six-week program beginning on September 20th. The program will teach participants how to reduce their household food waste by teaching proper food storage techniques, planning, and shopping strategies, as well as how to cook delicious nutritious food from what they already have in the house.
Sustainability is vital to the strength of communities. By getting your family, friends, and schools involved, you can make a difference, and empower our kids to be part of the solution of protecting our planet.
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Janet Irizarry is a restaurant consultant with 30+ years in the restaurant and hospitality industry. She started working in restaurants when she was 15 and has owned and operated three full-service restaurants. She is an Adjunct Professor, in the School of Business Management, at the Culinary Institute of America where she introduces students to the Hospitality industry. She is founder of HudsonValleyEATS.com, which is an online community that focuses on creating a sustainable Hudson Valley and highlighting the restaurants and the food entrepreneurs that make the food scene so magnificent. To register for the Hudson Valley Food Waste Challenge visit Register at hudsonvalleyeats.com.
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