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Reducing Food Waste in Seven Easy Steps

Statistics show that in the U.S. alone   60 million metric tons of food is wasted each year, of which about 40 million metric tons of it end up in municipal landfills. This represents between 30 to 40 percent of the overall food supply and the single largest component in landfills.  It is an important value in Judaism that we not waste resources, including food (the principle of baal tashchit).  Below are a few simple steps you can take to personally reduce food waste as you shop.

  • Inventory your food items before grocery shopping—Take stock of what you already have in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Make a list of only what you really need before heading to the store.
  • Create food menus for the week—Use this list of recipes to guide you as to how much to buy of each ingredient.
  • Stick to your list—Resist the urge to buy items not on your list, especially perishable food items. Even if an item is on special, if it is perishable and you don’t really need it you are likely to end up tossing it rather than eating it.
  • Store foods separately—Store apples, bananas and tomatoes by themselves.  Store fruits and vegetables in different bins.  Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster.
  • Freeze often—Freeze items that are still safe to eat but that you know you won’t have time to consume in the next few days.
  • Only wash before eating—Hold off washing fruits and vegetables until you are ready to use them to prevent mold.
  • Compost-If you do end up with fruits and vegetables  that you can no longer safely eat, compost them rather than throwing them into the trash can.

Resources:  Earth 911.com

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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