We’re two weeks into the season of Lent – A time of introspection, prayer and fasting for Christians. During this time, many people choose to “give-up” something for Lent like sweets, a favorite food or drink, etc. I always struggle with the idea of “giving-up” something for Lent. To me, it seems insignificant when I use this time for personal reflection and contemplation – I always think, “I should/could do more than not eat chocolate for 40 days!”
However, this year I’ve come to embrace the idea of “giving something up” and I hope whatever your religious beliefs are, you’ll join me and “give something up” too – not only during this time of year, but throughout the entire year. I’m talking about giving up wasting food! According to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, American’s waste enough food to fill the 90,000 seat Rose Bowl Stadium every day! That’s an incredible amount of food being wasted each day. And with 1 in 6 American’s living in food insecure situations, it’s hard to wrap your mind around why all that food is ending up in a landfill. Much of this wasted food is still consumable – think produce nearing the end of its shelf life that is still perfectly fine to eat, misshapen fruits and vegetables that don’t meet our “standards” for what produce should look like that never makes it to the grocery store, and perfectly good items that have confusing “sell by/use by” dates that get tossed, but don’t necessarily mean the food is spoiled.
Even though it’s daunting to think about so much food going to waste, we can individually and collectively make simple changes in our lives that would reduce the amount of food that gets wasted. Simple things like meal planning, creatively using leftovers, checking the back of your fridge for items that might go unnoticed or unused and moving them to the front so they don’t get forgotten about and of course, if you have an abundance of food that you can’t use in time – find a nearby food pantry that would be more than happy to share your abundance with those in need. AmpleHarvest.org/find-pantry Our friends at Sustainable America just put out these great tips and we also have our own Top 5 Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home that can be wonderful resources if you’re looking for more ways to “give-up” wasting food.
Other than during Lent, you don’t hear much about “giving up” on anything in our society, but one thing is for sure – giving up on throwing out perfectly good food is the kind of “giving up” I can get behind…not just during Lent, but throughout the entire year!