“Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: 1.6 billion tons of produce a year, with a value of about $1 trillion.” This shameful fact was published in the recent Guardian article, Half of All US Food Produce is Thrown Away, New Research Suggests. Sadly, the oddly shaped, ‘imperfect’ fruits and vegetables are the ones that are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or tossed into the landfill, which are surprisingly, the ‘biggest single component of incinerators’ according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Wasting produce isn’t only selfish and financially irresponsible, it’s also harmful to our planet and causing methane levels at food dumps to rise.
The idea of only consuming ‘perfect’ vegetables is so sad to me. Why do so many crave perfection? Perfect bodies, perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect make-up, perfect lives and perfect food? It seems so unnatural and unhealthy. I’ve always loved digging around through the garden, looking for the carrots that are hugging or the potatoes that are shaped a little different than the others. These ‘imperfect’ harvests are like treasures and somehow taste even better.
As global citizens, we all have a responsibility to cherish and take care of Earth, our home, and therefore it’s so important and imperative that we make an effort to eat well without waste. These are two ways my family and I do this .
The main reason people waste food is because they begin the week with good intentions to eat healthy, stock their fridge with fresh, beautiful produce and then after a day or so end up not cooking, getting take-out and then throwing out most of what they purchased a week later after it has spoiled. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, we’re all guilty of this, but in reality it’s inexcusable and can be avoided with proper meal planning.
You may be thinking “but I don’t have time to meal plan, how will I ever fit this in to my already packed schedule?” And it’s true, meal planning does take effort, time and practice but before long it becomes part of a routine. And aside from eliminating waste, it saves time and money as well. After a long day at work, the last thing I want to think about is what to cook for dinner. Thankfully, with a meal plan, that’s already sorted out and all I have to do is refer to the list and begin cooking. Since I like to make larger portions so my husband and I have leftovers for lunch the next day, it also saves us money on takeout. Less waste, more time, more money – win win win!
Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Before going to the grocery store, write down a list of all the days in the week. Then, realistically write down what you’re going to eat on each day. If your goal is to cook more and eat out less, but deep down you know that you’ll still visit a restaurant once or twice during the week, write that down. This meal plan is for you and you alone and the purpose of it is to prevent waste, save money and save time, so be honest with yourself. Only after you have a plan established for what you’re going to eat during the week should you head out to the grocery store to pick up what you need. Once you’re there buy only what you need!
While at the farmer’s market or grocery store, dig through the perfect produce and look for the “imperfect” beauties. When you find them, buy them! Head out on a treasure hunt and see how many beauties you can find! The demand for ‘perfect’ fruits and vegetables is made by the customers, not the farmers, and if customers frequently buy (and request) them, eventually they’ll show up more and more on the shelves. It’s easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed after reading articles like the one published by the Guardian, but it’s important to remember that we all have the power to create positive change for ourselves, our health, each other and the planet!
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How do you cut down on waste? What are your tips for meal planning? Tell us in the comments below.
If you’re in need of meal planning and zero waste inspiration, read on!
ASHLEY WOOD is a recipe developer and writer from Winnipeg, Canada. With a passion for health, wellness and vegetables, Ashley creates simple and inexpensive vegan recipes made from whole ingredients that are often seasonal, sometimes gluten-free and occasionally raw. Ashley believes in celebrating the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle and at the very least, hopes to inspire others to eat more plants, smile and live with some Sunshine.