How can we reduce food waste at home and beyond?

In summary: A gain of moisture.Peeling potatoes or carrots.All that goes into the refuse bin.In summary, 38 million tonns of food are wasted each day, and this thread is for tips on reducing food waste.
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wolram
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For me I need to do a better job of eating left-overs. Especially if it was something I actually liked. I always hate putting a dish in the trash because I waited too long.
 
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I am not so impressed by the EPA article. "Buy only what you need" is not a particularly novel observation.

One thing we can do is avoid organic farming. It is 25% more wasteful than conventional farming. I suspect it will not be adopted.
 
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  • #7
Greg Bernhardt said:
For me I need to do a better job of eating left-overs. Especially if it was something I actually liked. I always hate putting a dish in the trash because I waited too long.

Many of my friends, especially couples who are now living with just the two of them after all their kids have moved out, are opting for one of those meal-delivery service such as Blue Apron and the likes. They like the convenience of not having to do grocery shopping, but still have freshly-cooked food at home. And they get to try a large variety of food. They tell me that they have practically zero food waste from such service.

Zz.
 
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  • #8
ZapperZ said:
Blue Apron
Cool idea! I've heard though it's expensive and there is a waste issue on their end as there is a lot of packaging for every meal.
 
  • #9
A local food charity here was going to throw away 300 pounds of perfectly fine fresh baby carrots in 1-2 pound plastic bags because they didn't need them for that week's recipes! One of my neighbors volunteers there, so she took it upon herself to get as much as possible redistributed. I've heard other horror stories in the news where perfectly fine donated food was thrown away. Recently a large load of prime steak and roasts that were donated to a food pantry by a local restaurant were thrown away because the cuts weren't "labeled".
 
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  • #10
Evo said:
Recently a large load of prime steak and roasts that were donated to a food pantry by a local restaurant were thrown away because the cuts weren't "labeled".
Yeah there are some misguided regulations on what restaurants and grocers can do with "old" food. Not being able to donate day old bread from a bakery to a food pantry is insane. Their garbage bins are full of perfectly consumable food.
 
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  • #11
What\s the definition of food waste? Is that the same as wasted food, such as throwing out the moldy cut off bits of cheese, or the day after the 'best before' date on a can of peas which many people confusingly mistake as gone bad from freshness.

I would think some 'food waste' is inevitable at the home, unless people want to gnaw on and crunch down on the bone from a rib steak, or eat the banana peel, apple core, or that thing left over from corn on the cob.
Is a plum dried out into a prune a food waste? A loss of moisture.
Versus the water injected into a ham or turkey to keep it moist with phosphates? A gain of moisture.
Peeling potatoes or carrots.
All that goes into the refuse bin.

Surely all that from meal preparation has to be part of the mentioned 38 million tons per year. Or is it per day worldwide from farm to consumer to the landfill.
 
  • #12
256bits said:
What\s the definition of food waste? Is that the same as wasted food, such as throwing out the moldy cut off bits of cheese, or the day after the 'best before' date on a can of peas which many people confusingly mistake as gone bad from freshness.

I would think some 'food waste' is inevitable at the home, unless people want to gnaw on and crunch down on the bone from a rib steak, or eat the banana peel, apple core, or that thing left over from corn on the cob.
Is a plum dried out into a prune a food waste? A loss of moisture.
Versus the water injected into a ham or turkey to keep it moist with phosphates? A gain of moisture.
Peeling potatoes or carrots.
All that goes into the refuse bin.

Surely all that from meal preparation has to be part of the mentioned 38 million tons per year. Or is it per day worldwide from farm to consumer to the landfill.
I'km sure it is from farmer to shop to consumer to waste bin, All of your above is not food waste.
 
  • #13
256bits said:
What\s the definition of food waste? Is that the same as wasted food, such as throwing out the moldy cut off bits of cheese, or the day after the 'best before' date on a can of peas which many people confusingly mistake as gone bad from freshness.

I would think some 'food waste' is inevitable at the home, unless people want to gnaw on and crunch down on the bone from a rib steak, or eat the banana peel, apple core, or that thing left over from corn on the cob.
Is a plum dried out into a prune a food waste? A loss of moisture.
Versus the water injected into a ham or turkey to keep it moist with phosphates? A gain of moisture.
Peeling potatoes or carrots.
All that goes into the refuse bin.

Surely all that from meal preparation has to be part of the mentioned 38 million tons per year. Or is it per day worldwide from farm to consumer to the landfill.
The article Wolram posted in the OP explain how food is wasted pretty well. People that don't eat leftovers, that let food spoil by either buying too much or forgetting they have it. People that are wasteful preparing vegetables is a big pet peeve of mine, I cringe when I see people chop and throw away large edible portions of vegetables when preparing them. For example, green onions/scallions BOTH the white and green part are edible, do not cut off an inch of the white part when you cut off the root end, just slice the onion right above the root line. Do not throw away the green part, I have seen people do this also, just trim the dry ends.
 
  • #14
Vanadium 50 said:
I am not so impressed by the EPA article. "Buy only what you need" is not a particularly novel observation.

One thing we can do is avoid organic farming. It is 25% more wasteful than conventional farming. I suspect it will not be adopted.

If I'm not mistaken, the links provided is addressing the question of food that has already been cultivated being thrown away or otherwise not used (and thus wasted). That is a separate and distinct issue to what you are pointing out, which is that conventional agriculture produces better yield.
 
  • #15
If not going to other people, vegetable food left-overs and waste parts can be composted (and then put in the garden).
I have also heard of worm farms (earthworms that is) getting old plant material from local restaurants and feeding it to their worm herds (very similar to composting). Earthworms are good for gardens but are also quite nutritious for humans and other animals.
 
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  • #16
I would argue that waste is waste, no matter where in the chain it happens.
 
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  • #17
ZapperZ said:
Blue Apron

Greg Bernhardt said:
Cool idea! I've heard though it's expensive and there is a waste issue on their end as there is a lot of packaging for every meal.
My wife and I get Blue Apron on weekly basis, except when we go somewhere. We're very happy with the range of cuisines that are supplied and its quality. As for cost, it works out to about $20 a meal for the two of us, certainly cheaper than going out for dinner. Our usual division of labor is that I cut up the things that need to be cut (when I was young I worked as a cook in several restaurants, so I know how to chop and dice things quickly), and my wife cooks the items that I have prepared for her.

Blue Apron claims that all of their packaging is recyclable, but I don't believe that our recycle service will take the ice packs that they put in each box, so I throw that away and recycle most of the rest.
 
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  • #18
Compost and then use it to grow your own food.
 
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  • #19
On the personal or private side, chicken skin and bones are useful for making soup or chicken-stock. Also when cooking chicken, collecting the liquid and cooling in the refrigerator allows you to collect both the liquid (again, good for soup) and the fat. The fat is useful for anything you would use any food oil for, like frying food, or as the oil/fat ingredient in many other recipes.
 
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  • #20
wolram said:
I'km sure it is from farmer to shop to consumer to waste bin, All of your above is not food waste.
Evo said:
The article Wolram posted in the OP explain how food is wasted pretty well

Organic material is organic material.
Calling it food waste for one instance and not for another is improper, and confusing. There are economic reasons to use every bit of food that has a value to it. As is said, everybit of a cow is used except the "moo". Directing the emphasis to the home that the article speaks of, and the (US) 38 million tonnes per year of waste, and trying to win people over to do their part so they can feel good about themselves is indecent.

Somewhere in those numbers, there is a whole bunch of accounting problems with what is food waste and when it becomes such.
I suspect some double tallying, and keen omissions, and additions.
One cannot just eat the shell of an egg, ( or then again maybe some people do ).
Plate scraps include bones, shells and any other unedible parts of a meal, including the sauce left on the plate, which kids like to "lick their plates clean".
After a meal at home that becomes food waste.
At the processor for a ready made meal it becomes a food loss, but re-directed into another chain for the food supply, either fertilizer or animal food.

If I feed my dog a steak, is that food waste, since it has now been directed from human consumption to animal consumption.
Since the decision was may at the home rather than earlier in the chain at the food processor - that changes the tally?

I buy a corn cob.
1. I shuck it, cook it, eat the kernels, then the thrown away husk and the left over cob is NOT food waste, since those parts are not edible for human consumption.
2. I throw the whole cob and husk away then ALL - the kernals, the hush, the cob IS food waste, since there was a meal there, albeit, just the kernals.

The definition is problematic.
Others have said so.
From Wiki.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste
The definitions by the UN and EU have come under criticism for including food that goes to nonfood productive use in their definitions of food waste.[4] According to the authors of one study, this is flawed for two reasons: "First, if recovered food is used as an input, such as animal feed, fertilizer, or biomass to produce output, then by definition it is not wasted. However, there might be economic losses if the cost of recovered food is higher than the average cost of inputs in the alternative, nonfood use. Second, the definition creates practical problems for measuring food waste because the measurement requires tracking food loss in every stage of the supply chain and its proportion that flows to nonfood uses."[4] The authors of the study argue that only food that ends up in landfills should be counted as food waste.
Bold is mine.
 
  • #21
wolram said:
It is amazing that we throw away 38 million tonns of food each day, This thread is for tips on reducing food waste, how to use left overs etc.
https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home#ways.
If you feel guilty about throwing away food, and you should, contribute to this thread
https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/food-waste
The first link is pretty informative as to measurements each individual can take to avoid trashing the food. Thanks for sharing it.

What must be happening in many houses right now:
My new year resolution is being more healthy. *Person goes and buys a bunch of fruits* *Doesn't eat them* *Trashes them in February*

When you have many digestive organs that don't work as they work in the mayority of people (for X or Y reason), food trash is minimum since you can barely eat anything. Most of the stuff that goes bad and people trash, I cannot eat, so I don't buy them in the first place. Fruits for instance I should not eat, so I don't buy them.
 
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  • #23
256bits said:
Organic material is organic material.
Calling it food waste for one instance and not for another is improper, and confusing. There are economic reasons to use every bit of food that has a value to it. As is said, everybit of a cow is used except the "moo". Directing the emphasis to the home that the article speaks of, and the (US) 38 million tonnes per year of waste, and trying to win people over to do their part so they can feel good about themselves is indecent.

Somewhere in those numbers, there is a whole bunch of accounting problems with what is food waste and when it becomes such.
I suspect some double tallying, and keen omissions, and additions.
One cannot just eat the shell of an egg, ( or then again maybe some people do ).
Plate scraps include bones, shells and any other unedible parts of a meal, including the sauce left on the plate, which kids like to "lick their plates clean".
After a meal at home that becomes food waste.
At the processor for a ready made meal it becomes a food loss, but re-directed into another chain for the food supply, either fertilizer or animal food.

If I feed my dog a steak, is that food waste, since it has now been directed from human consumption to animal consumption.
Since the decision was may at the home rather than earlier in the chain at the food processor - that changes the tally?

I buy a corn cob.
1. I shuck it, cook it, eat the kernels, then the thrown away husk and the left over cob is NOT food waste, since those parts are not edible for human consumption.
2. I throw the whole cob and husk away then ALL - the kernals, the hush, the cob IS food waste, since there was a meal there, albeit, just the kernals.

The definition is problematic.
Others have said so.
From Wiki.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste

Bold is mine.
I think you are just trying to be problematic. Throwing away a corn cob is not wasteful in the context of this thread. Feeding any leftovers to an animal is not food waste, again, you are being problematic.
 
  • #24
Vanadium 50 said:
I would argue that waste is waste, no matter where in the chain it happens.

I disagree, because waste can occur at different chains for different causes, and thus trying to address and fix/correct those sources will take different approaches.
 
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Related to How can we reduce food waste at home and beyond?

1. How can we track and monitor our food waste at home?

One way to track and monitor food waste at home is by keeping a food waste journal. This involves recording the types and amounts of food that are thrown away each day. By doing this, you can identify patterns and make adjustments to reduce food waste.

2. What are some methods for reducing food waste at home?

Some methods for reducing food waste at home include planning meals and grocery shopping based on what you already have, storing food properly to extend its shelf life, and using leftovers to create new meals. Composting is also a great way to reduce food waste by turning scraps into nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

3. How can we reduce food waste beyond our own homes?

One way to reduce food waste beyond our own homes is by supporting local food banks and charities that collect excess food from grocery stores and restaurants. Additionally, advocating for food waste reduction policies and supporting companies that prioritize sustainability can also make a significant impact.

4. What are some common reasons for food waste?

Some common reasons for food waste include overbuying or purchasing more than what is needed, improper storage and preservation, and expiration dates. In addition, consumer preferences for visually appealing produce and strict sell-by dates also contribute to food waste.

5. How does reducing food waste benefit the environment?

Reducing food waste benefits the environment in several ways. It conserves natural resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production, transportation, and disposal. Additionally, less food waste means less landfills, which helps to reduce water and air pollution.

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