8 Easy Ways To Limit Food Waste
Almost all of us can relate to getting a little too ambitious at the grocery store, buying all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies, and then watching them get softer, wrinklier, and eventually moldy in the drawer of our refrigerator.
Having this happen once or twice is no big deal, but as humans, we have a nasty habit of wasting food. Food waste is a huge problem all across the globe. In fact, a 2013 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report found that about almost one-third of all food produced for human consumption never actually finds its way to our mouths.
Pretty crazy, isn’t it?
Besides being bad for our budget and the world economy, food waste is extremely harmful to the planet. According to the organization Move for Hunger, food waste ends up in landfills and produces huge amounts of methane, which is a damaging greenhouse gas. It also takes an incredible amount of water, oil, and other resources to produce food; and if that food is never eaten, that energy goes to waste.
Not to mention, food insecurity and world hunger are still major issues, so we all have not only an environmental but moral obligation to make efforts to reduce food waste.
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The good news is that reducing food waste doesn’t have to mean selling all your material possessions and moving to an organic farming community. In fact, here are eight easy ways to reduce food waste today:
1. Whip up a bone broth
Thanks to its collagen and mineral content, bone broth is one of my favorite superfoods. I often recommend it to my patients for restoring gut function and aid in healing from problems such as candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome. You can make bone broth at home by buying whole chickens — which also saves you money — and then using the bones to make a batch of broth in a slow cooker or Instant Pot (here’s my definitive guide to bone broth). Bone broth can be frozen and used as the base for soups and other recipes, or you can drink it in the morning or afternoon for a gut-healing treat. If you have extra fresh turmeric or ginger lying around, you can add them to your broth for extra healing benefits.
2. Get creative with juices and smoothies
Have a little extra kale, celery, apple, or lemon that is looking a little worse for wear? Add them to a smoothie or juice them for a midday snack! This is a great way to make use of extra fresh produce you have around the house. If you don’t feel like a smoothie today, you can also freeze fruit or vegetables that are getting old and just grab them when you need them.
3. Freeze, freeze, freeze!
Speaking of frozen fruit and veggies, there’s a rule I always tell my patients about food waste: When in doubt, freeze it! If you are even the slightest bit unsure of whether or not you’ll use that fruit or vegetable before it goes bad chop it up and freeze it. Then, if you are ever in a pinch for dinner, throw them in a crock pot with some broth and seasonings for a veggie soup, add them to quick stir-fry, incorporate them into an omelette, or add them to a smoothie. This will save you time and eliminate waste.
4. Regrow scraps
Did you know that you can actually regrow vegetables from their scraps? It seems too good to be true but it isn’t! This is great for anyone on a budget because instead of buying additional produce, you can regrow them yourself in your kitchen. For example, the ends of many vegetables can be added to water to produce additional tops. Here’s a list of some vegetables that can be regrown:
- Green onions
- Romaine lettuce
Pretty cool, right? The instructions are slightly different for each one so be sure to look up the steps and tools needed for each one. I recommend looking for a YouTube video so you can see each step for yourself!
5. Eat the whole animal (including organ meats!)
Many people turn up their nose at organ meats but the truth is, they are the most nutritious of all. Many people need extra B vitamins for detoxification support, and organ meats are the food that’s the highest in B vitamins which act as the fuel for methylation — the biochemical process in our body responsible for hundreds of pathways that maintain healthy hormones, detoxification, and brain function. Organ meats are also high in the active form of vitamin A and the antioxidant CoQ10, so by eating the entire animal you are servicing the planet and your body!
6. Make a side or “snack” soup
If you have extra vegetables laying around the house that look like they’re close to going bad, I recommend making a soup out of them. And you don’t have to think about soup as your main meal, either. Soup can be eaten as a snack or even with your breakfast. The best part is that with the right spices and some salt, pepper, and garlic, soup can be made from pretty much any vegetable out there and it’s delicious!
7. Make healthy dog food
Yes, I’m serious! If eating organ meat just isn’t appealing to you, your four-legged friend would certainly love what you’d want to throw away! Most conventional dog food contains grains and other ingredients less than ideal for your furry friend. By making your own dog food with vegetables, bone broth, and leftover organ meats, you are using up what you would otherwise throw away while also elevating their health so you can enjoy their company for many more years to come. There are a ton of easy recipes online.
Food waste is a big problem, but solving food waste in our own lives doesn’t have to be a big sacrifice or major effort. By remembering just a few of the tips above, you can greatly cut down on your food waste and know you’re doing great things for both your health and the health of the planet!
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.