• Denine Rogers

National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month where the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics informs everyone about the healthy food choices and physical activity habits. This year’s theme is to Go Further with Food by cutting back on food loss and waste. Did you know that Americans wastes an estimated 30-40 percent of the food supply? The USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Food waste is the single largest component that goes to municipal landfills and it also the third largest source of methane in the United States. Now that is a lots of foods that is going unused. How can we make a positive impact when reducing food loss and waste?

1. Planning meals and snacks in advance.

2. Plan to use leftovers later in the week

3. Consider the foods that you have on hand before buying more at the store

4. Be mindful of your portion sizes. Do not place too much food on your plate because you may dispose of it as plate food waste.

5. Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days.

6. Understanding the food label due dates. It is important to understand that the dates applied to food are for quality and not for food safety. Food products are safe to consume past the date on the label, and regardless of the date, consumers should evaluate the quality of the food product prior to its consumption. For more information on the food safety basics check out www.FoodSafety.gov/keep/charts/index.html

7. Try at least one week a month the zero-waste challenge where you commit not to waste any food you purchase.

8. Try the Ugly Fruit and Veg Campaign. Consumer and retailers waste 20 to 40 percent of fruits and vegetables worldwide based solely on aesthetics! The strategy of this campaign is to encourage retailers to purchase “imperfect” produce and sell it at a 30-50 percent markdown if needed. This will minimize food waste while increasing access to fruit and vegetables for shoppers on a tight budget. It also tries to create a market for blemished products by urging consumers to understand that ugly fruits and vegetables are not less nutritious than their more beautiful counterparts. Check out the list of U.S. locations that are selling ugly fruits and vegetables by going the website: www.EndFoodWaste.org . Also stay up on the latest news from the @UglyFruitandVeg Campaign and follow them through social media.

Another way to reduce food loss and waste is to re-purpose the leftover foods. There are a number ways you can do this but here are the top seven tips.

1. Cut up leftover French fries and add them to omelet or make them as hash browns

2. Add crisp salad greens such as Endive, Romaine, arugula and escarole into soups, stews or slow cooker recipes

3. Use stale bread in the food processor to make breadcrumbs

4. Try to use stale cereals when making muffins or crisp them in the oven for trail mix

5. Add in freezer tired vegetables to make a savory stock with water, herbs and salt and simmer

6. Carrot and fennel can be added to salads and grind up with nuts, garlic, and cheese or olive oil to make pesto

7. Blanch and sauté' kale for stir-fry or toss them in pickling brine and seasoning for a week to make a crunchy, flavorful addition to dishes.

If we all use these methods for preventing and reducing food loss and waste then we all can Go Further with the Food that we eat and enjoy!

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