As part of its campaign aimed at curbing global food waste, the Worldwatch Institute this week offered some tips to help reduce the squandering of holiday foodstuffs here in the United States. The energy, resource and environmental research organization says that each year, U.S. residents generate an extra 5 million tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year's, a rate of loss three times greater than at other times of the year. Total U.S. food waste adds up to 34 million tons annually.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption ‑ -approximately 1.3 billion tons – is lost or wasted each year. Consumers in developed countries such as the United States are responsible for 222 million tons of this waste, or nearly the same quantity of food as is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
As Americans prepare for the upcoming holidays, Worldwatch suggests the following:
· Be realistic. The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. Instead, plan out how much food you and your guests will realistically need, and stock up accordingly.
· Plan ahead. Sticking to a list will reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary quantities.
· During meals, go small. Smaller plates, smaller utensils, smaller servings, all help reduce the amount left on plates. Guests can always take second (or third!) servings if still hungry. Also, encourage guests to serve themselves, choosing what, and how much, they would like to eat.
· After meals, store leftovers safely. Create new meals from leftovers or compost food scraps.
· Donate excess food. Food banks and shelters gladly welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months.
Worldwatch says the food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide.
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