If you have a habit of throwing away food, you are not alone. Many people throw away their leftovers or extra food, which is not only affecting their bank accounts, but is also affecting the environment. When you throw away food, it rots and emits methane into the air. In case you do not know what methane is, it is a strong greenhouse gas connected to climate change. It is also poisonous.
You alone are not responsible for this, as millions of people around the world throw away food on a daily basis. Little by little, the environment suffers. Just imagine, in the United States alone, about 133 billion pounds of food is thrown in the garbage. This is where it gets scary – around the world, 1.3 billion tons of food ends up in the landfill.
If the statistics shocked you, perhaps, you want to do something about it. You can educate yourself and others by using the food that you would otherwise throw away to cook delicious meals. For starters, watch videos and read books teaching you how you can transform waste into treasure. One book in particular that stands out is Dana Gunders’s Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook. Here are some highlights from the book:
1. How to Tell a Rotten Egg from a Good One
Unlike Willy Wonka, you don’t have a machine that swings left and right, differentiating between a good egg from a bad one. However, you have something better. You have a bowl of water. If you suspect the egg to be a rotten one, put it in a bowl of water. If it sinks to the bottom, thumbs up. If it floats on top, thumbs down. The eggshell of the egg is preamble to air and gradually, air replaces the moisture.
2. Do Not Throw Away Expired Food
When people see that the expiration date of the food has passed, they chuck the food into the garbage. No one wants an upset stomach from eating expired food. Don’t you think throwing away expired food is a little too drastic? Even though you may think it’s expired, it is still edible. In fact, products can stay fresh for weeks, days, and months after the expiry date has passed. In Gunders’s book, she mentions more than 85 types of food along with information on how you can extend their shelf life.
3. Solution to Perk Up Wilted Vegetables
Wilted and droopy looking veggies are not something you want to put in your stew. So, you throw them away. Now, you won’t have to look at them any longer. Wrong! You will look at them and heal them. How? Get a bowl of ice water, put greens, carrots, and broccoli in it, and see them perk up before your very eyes. It’s quite amazing. Try it!
4. For You, It’s a Freezer, but for Your Food, it’s Their Savior
Onions, tomatoes, milk, and sliced bread (if it’s whole, slice it) can all go into the freezer for you to use later. Leftover veggies, milk, and bread you will not use because you are going on a vacation can all go into the freezer. When you take them out, the color and the taste will remain unchanged. What about sour milk, Gunders? She says the day your milk goes sour will be the day for pancakes or biscuits.
5. How to Store Your Food
Veggies and fruits, whole or cut, belong in airtight containers. Make sure the containers are see-through so you remember to use them. Store meat on the bottom of the refrigerator, as it’s colder and yogurt on the bottom, as it’s warmer. Your eggs do not belong on the fridge’s door, but in the main part of the fridge.
In her book, she also mentions the food you need to toss, smarter ways to shop for groceries, the benefit of planning your meals ahead of time, and more. Dana Gunders’s book is worth a read!