Changing the landscape of food insecurity
The USDA is committed to fighting food insecurity and food waste, and consumers can also reflect on their food waste to minimize the loss of food.
The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service and Michigan State University Extension defines food security as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life”. Food security influences the wellbeing of adults, children and communities, but one in six people in America faces hunger. The USDA defines "food insecurity" as the lack of access, at times, to enough food for all household members. On average, households that were food insecure at some time during the year were food insecure in 7 months during the year.
In contrast to the number of households that are food insecure is the report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that between 30-40 percent of the food supply ends up as food waste. USDA has committed to changes and consumers can also reflect on their food waste to minimize the loss of food. Following are some tips and ideas that you can use to get started reducing food waste and saving money.
When it comes to planning, the first thing you should do is think before you shop, and bring a list to help you stay on track. Be sure to plan everyday meals ahead of time. Along with planning, make sure to freeze or refridgerate leftover meals so you can cook once and eat twice.
- Fruits and vegetables stored at room temperature should be removed from any packaging and left loose.
- Leave refrigerated produce unwashed in its original packaging or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag.
- Remember the food storage rule "first in, first out" to rotate the storage of food by using oldest food first.
- Consumers can save money by “shopping” your pantry and refrigerator.
- Repurpose foods when they are still safe to eat, but past their prime. For example, make soups and stir fry vegetables to extend their use. Breads and baked goods can find new uses like bread pudding or homemade croutons.
- If you have a garden, consider composting of food scraps.
We can all do our part to address these issues of food insecurity and reducing waste to save resources and money. Working together, we can construct a path to a more food-secure nation.