Kitchen Staples

The United States has a real problem with food waste.  This is not only on the farm where produce is labeled unfit for sale, but because of what we throw away in the homes.  Overall, about 40% of U.S. food is wasted according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The average U.S. family of four wastes more than 2 million calories, which equates to $1,500 worth of food every year.

If we could only reduce that waste by just 15%, it could provide food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year as well as benefit the environment.  Composting food scraps in your backyard is one way to reduce this.

Overbuying fresh foods and then end of having them spoil before we use them is a big waste.  A number of healthy staples exist that we are able to stock up on without worrying about spoilage.  Stock up your pantry and you’ll be prepared to make a meal on short notice.  Avoid foods that last a long time because they contain synthetic preservative or come in canned form.  Look for those whole foods that are naturally long lasting and good for you.

 

Some of these foods are:

  • Dried Beans
  • Mustard
  • White Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Olives
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Chia Seeds

 

Some of the foods we store and eat are good long past their expiration date.  The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard found that more than 90% of Americans are throwing out food prematurely because of that misunderstanding of what food date labels actually mean.

The food dates generally lead to good food getting thrown away prematurely.  There is no system accepted universally for food dating in the U.S.  “Sell by” dates are actually not even for consumer use at all but as tools to help retailers ensure that proper product turnover when stocking shelves are current.  Most consumers believe it is a measure of food safety.  These dates are set by the manufacturer to “suggest” when to consume the food for best flavor or quality.  This is not a measure of safety and foods can typically be safely consumed after the “best by” date with little or no changes in taste or texture.

The “use by” date is the last date the manufacturer recommends for the use of the product while still at peak quality.  It is determined by the manufacturer and will vary widely.  Even though you haven’t used that product by the “use by” date, just remember that it is still safe to eat beyond that specific date.  You are really on your own to determine it the product is still good to consume.  Lets all do our part to try to cut down on the food waste in the U.S.  Seems tragic when we waste so much food and those in other countries are starving and would be grateful for what we throw out.

Dr Fredda Branyon