"There is no substitute for the best. Good food cannot be made of inferior ingredients masked with high flavor. It is true thrift to use the best ingredients possible and to waste nothing."
--James Beard, American chef
Between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply in the United States is wasted. Why are we wasting so much?
“Food loss occurs for many reasons, with some types of loss—such as spoilage—occurring at every stage of the production and supply chain. Between the farm gate and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras.” (Source: usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs)
I have composted for most of my adult life. When I prepare food at home, things like pineapple skins, banana peels, and fibrous stems of kale and collards go into a recycled plastic coffee can in preparation for my daily walk to the compost pile in the corner of the yard. There are two basic rules for composting: (1) only fruit and vegetable scraps go into the compost pile and (2) NOTHING from an animal (such as cheese or meat) and NO OILS go into the compost pile.
Composting fruit and vegetable scraps to make biological rich soil has changed how I buy and prepare food. When shopping, I now buy in smaller quantities. When cooking, I prepare what is needed for an evening meal and maybe enough for a healthy time-saving lunch the next day. When using mushrooms, celery, onions, and carrots, I freeze the peelings and mushroom stems to make vegetable stock for soups. When making muffins and cakes, I always use a spatula to get every spoon of batter into the baking pan.
In our Growing Healthy Kids workshops, teaching kids about not wasting food always includes a lesson on the power of the spatula. Kids are ALWAYS amazed at how much batter there is on the inside of a mixing bowl that would otherwise have been washed down the drain.
There are opportunities to teach our children life lessons about preventing food waste with every food shopping trip and every meal prepared in the family kitchen. Preventing food waste is a way to respect the work of American farmers.
With love and kindness,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder and Wellness Architect