How many times have you reached into the refrigerator to grab what you thought was perfectly good food, only to have to throw it out because it's moldy or gone bad? A rotten apple, a spoiled yogurt or uneaten leftovers cost the average household real money. In fact, according to SavetheFoodFl.com, approximately $1,800 of food per family goes to waste every year, resulting in 40 percent of all food produced being tossed into the garbage rather than being eaten.
That's why this week, FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management helped bring awareness by encouraging others to commit to reducing food waste and food insecurity through Food Waste Prevention Week (FWPW). Reducing food waste is an easy way for individuals to save the environment and do their part. That's because once in a landfill, food waste breaks down and emits harmful greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, making it more harmful to the environment.
"Food Waste Prevention Week to me is the opportunity to expand teaching and awareness of the connection of food waste prevention to cost savings for households and businesses, to develop more and better sources of nutrition for the food-insecure as well as animals, and as one of society's best and most do-able changes to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change that arise from discarded food waste," said John Buschman, FIU hospitality professor and co-director of the new online Bachelor of Arts degree in global sustainable tourism.
Food Waste Prevention Week's mission is to support a healthier environment and help families save money by educating the public about reducing food waste at home, at work and in the community.
Buschman is a leader in the field of food rescue and a member of the initiative’s planning team. This week, he and fellow hospitality professor and chef John Noble Masi held a virtual session called "The Circularity of Event Food Scraps: Cooking & Composting" to show participants that ending food loss and waste requires purposeful action.
For example, a year ago, FIU Chaplin School started the university's composting program along with FIU's Office of University Sustainability and campus food service provider Chartwell's Higher Education. To celebrate this year’s FWPW, the Chaplin School joined the FIU Agroecology program of the Department of Earth and Environment at FIU's College of Arts, Sciences & Education to take the initiative to the next level.
FIU Agroecology will use the finished compost as a soil amendment in a specialty garden that will supply the school’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab with fresh produce for the school's Advanced Food Production classes.
Food, such as tomatoes, will be grown in the garden, then served at the school's only student-run restaurant, the FIU Bistro.
"Using the new produce, Chaplin, Agroecology and Earth and Environment faculty and students will be able to demonstrate the full circularity of organic food waste for the FIU community through the lunch and dinner programs of the FIU Bistro," said Masi, who leads the restaurant and culinary management program.
That's just one example, but everyone can help reduce food waste. Some easy tips and activities to do your part include:
- Save leftovers and store or freeze the food in portion-ready containers.
- Store leftovers in clear containers so you can easily grab and go.
- Have a weekly leftover night to empty the refrigerator before shopping again.
- Conduct a waste audit. Learn more in this video.
- Compost your food scraps.
- Keep older items in the front of the fridge.
- Freeze ripe fruits and vegetables.
- Buy smaller quantities of food to avoid spoilage and waste.
- Don't shop hungry.
- Donate items you won't use before the expiration date. Find a location here: https://www.feedingflorida.org/florida-food-banks
- Bring your leftovers from dinner to work for lunch.
- Share your leftovers or create a share table or bowl where everyone can leave untouched fruits or food for others to eat.
There are so many more additional actions anyone can take to reduce food waste. For a complete list, visit https://www.savethefoodfl.com/learn for more details on how to avoid letting good food go bad.