Tag Archives: GrowNYC

Food Waste: From “Farm to Fork to Landfill”

2 Oct

2878997800_c13c7ac94dHave you ever thought twice about throwing out last week’s leftovers? Turns out, you’re not alone! According to the fifth annual Eco Pulse survey, 39% of Americans feel the most “green guilt” for wasting food.

A recent issue paper from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill,” established a framework about U.S. food waste, summarizing the opportunities available to reduce wasted food. Here are some of the paper’s major findings:

  • Americans trash 40% of our food supply every year (that’s around $165 billion)
  • The average American family of four ends up throwing away the equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food
  • Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills
  • Just a 15% reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough food to feed 25 million Americans annually

Dana Gunders, a NRDC project scientist and the issue paper’s author states, “With the price of food continuing to grow, and drought jeopardizing farmers nationwide, now is the time to embrace all the tremendous untapped opportunities to get more out of our food system.”

Jonathan Bloom, author of “American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half its Food (And What We Can do About It),” attributes the main reasons as to why Americans waste so much food to abundance, beauty, and cost. He says,“In terms of beauty, we have reached the point where appearance trumps taste with our food. Anything that doesn’t meet those requirements — whether in the store or in the home — often ends up being thrown out.”

Yet, according to the USDA 1 in 6 Americans don’t have enough to eat.

In order to increase the efficiency of the American food system, the NRDC believes that we must collectively work together by involving decision-makers at every level of the supply chain. Dana Gunders and project scientists hold true that this type of multi-pronged response is needed to prevent this alarming issue from getting worse. They believe that the key decision-makers are the federal government, state and local governments, businesses both large and small, and of course, the individual American citizen.

Here are some tips to reduce your family’s food waste footprint today:

  • Grocery shop more frequently, to minimize the potential for wasting perishable produce.
  • At the grocery store or farmers market, bring reusable bags with you to save on throw away plastic.
  • Create a detailed shopping list to help curb costly and unnecessary add-ons.
  • Freeze any leftovers that you know will not be eaten within a few days, and reuse those leftovers from dinner to pack for lunch the next day.
  • Organize your fridge, and keep tabs on what it holds. Knowing your inventory helps reduce food waste. Keep half used items in plain sight so you feel inspired to use them up first.
  • Make an everything dish that uses up ingredients that need to be cooked, like a frittata, vegetable soup, quick breads or casseroles.
  • Compost: if you don’t have space for a compost bin, you can keep a sturdy freezer bag of your food scraps and store in your freezer. Freezing your compost will help cut out any smells. Many farmers markets take household compost, like GrowNYC. Just bring it on over, and your food scraps will be turned into fertile soil for use in urban farming and gardening projects.

Becoming informed of the waste that we contribute to is just the first step. Check out how some people have started to tackle the waste, and try finding a better home for your food than the landfill. For inspiring examples of food waste solutions, take a look at what City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City are up to. Let us know what steps you are taking to help curb your food waste at home.

Photo courtesy of Loopzilla

winter produce + tonight’s dinner

16 Feb

6316956581_b11250a6c6With beautiful displays of summer produce throughout winter in our grocery stores, it’s easy enough to forget what it means to eat locally in the winter. Local food, even this time of year, is fresher and has the added bonus of supporting the farmers that work so hard just beyond the limits of our everyday to provide for so many while caring for the plots of land that support where we stand today. If you are craving some freshly harvested local winter vegetables, but don’t know where to get them, check out Local Harvest, they will help you find local farmers markets, winter CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), and small family farms to visit on a chilly winter weekend.

Another great organization if you live in and around NYC, is GrowNYC.  They manage all of the city’s farmers markets, and many of them stay open in winter! Check out their market listings here.

The Farmer’s Market Coalition is another great resource that supports farmers markets across North America. Did you know that in 1994, there were approximately 1,755 farmers markets in the United States, and in 2010 their numbers have more than tripled — to approximately 6,200! This is great news for the livelihood of our neighborhoods, for our local economy and for our health. Even though the abundance of spring, summer and fall produce is hibernating, there are still great ways to connect with local produce and local farmers.

Here is a simple meal using winter veggies – inspiration for tonight’s dinner!

Rice + veggie medley (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 + 1/4 cup of water
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1-2 beets
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Directions:

Place 2 + 1/4 cups of water into a pot with a pinch of salt. Add one cup of brown rice into the water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease heat to a simmer, cover until the rice absorbs the water and is soft (35-45 minutes, for brown rice, depending on the rice you use).

Preheat the oven to 400F. Chop carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yellow onions into quarter-inch pieces.  Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle olive oil over the veggies.  Mix up all the veggies so they are evenly coated with oil.  Once coated, sprinkle salt + a bit of pepper, mix one more time, and place in the oven to roast for 30-40 minutes.  Every 15 minutes, use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix the veggies around.  Remove from the oven once all veggies are tender and have a golden glow.  Mix roasted veggies with the brown rice, and serve.

What creations have you made with your winter vegetables lately? 

Photo courtesy of goodlifevancouver