Go Further With Food
March 21, 2018 | View PDF
Each year during March, we celebrate National Nutrition Month®, which presents a great opportunity to focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. The theme for 2018 is “Go Further with Food” which encourages us to achieve and experience the numerous benefits of healthy eating habits but also urges us to find ways to cut back on food waste. Food waste is simply defined as when an edible item goes unconsumed. This can occur for many reasons. Retailers may throw out foods, especially produce due to how it looks or consumers may leave food on their plates that winds up in the trash. Food waste may also be due to buying too much produce, which ends up spoiling before being used or by not using foods before their “best buy” dates and consequently throwing them out. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) up to 40 percent of the food in the United states is never eaten yet at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table. Reducing food waste is important because wasted food equals wasted money and lost nutrition. Food waste also affects the environment since resources such as the water and energy used to produce the food are also wasted.
Luckily, by implementing a few simple strategies, we can all do our share to help reduce food waste and get the most nutrition from our grocery dollars. The first strategy is to plan meals based on what you already have at home to use up as much as you have before purchasing more. This helps to increase the turnaround time of foods thus decreasing the chances of foods going bad before they are eaten. Secondly, when shopping, aim to purchase only the amount of food that can be eaten or frozen within about a week. If possible, try to shop more frequently for perishable foods, particularly produce and meats as these foods tend to spoil more quickly. If you normally grocery shop every other week, consider adding a small shopping trip for fresh produce during the week between your normal shopping trips. Tip number three is to be organized. Foods are less likely to go bad when older items are used first. We’ve all found that mystery container at the back of the fridge but keeping our fridge and pantry organized helps to know what we have and what needs to be eaten first. The fourth strategy is to re-purpose leftovers by creating soups, stews, or by having a weekly leftover night. Also freeze extra left-overs before they spoil – just don’t forget to clean out the freezer every few months and eat up all of the leftovers. Lastly, donate food to shelters, food banks, and other organizations in your community that accept food donations whenever possible. For more great tips and information, visit savethefood.com.
Of course, National Nutrition Month® wouldn’t be complete without a reminder to focus on filling your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy or soy alternatives.