"Consumerism and a 'culture of waste' have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger," the Pope elaborated.
The Pope makes an astute point that connects two disturbing, widespread trends: hunger and food waste.
In the United States today:
- 30% of all food is thrown away each year
- Tens of millions of Americans go hungry on a daily basis. In December 2012, the number of children and adults on food stamps reached an astonishing, all-time high: 47,792,056, more than half children. Fully 15% of all Americans.
Stats published in 2012 by the Natural Resources Defense Council make clear the role of U.S. homes in food waste:
- Americans throw away about 1.5 pounds per person of food daily
- The average U.S. family of four throws away food costing about $2,275 each year
- U.S. food waste has jumped 50% since the 1970s.
- Food waste is now the single largest component of waste in U.S. landfills.
No-Brainer Ideas to Reduce Your Food Waste
No, your half-eaten leftovers obviously can't be shipped off to feed starving children in China, as U.S. mothers famously threatened kids dawdling over their veggies.
But there are innumerable no-brainer ideas you can implement to responsibly ensure that you don't take more than your fair, necessary share of our food supply, or waste that which your home buys or uses. Here are a few...
1. Cut down first-serving portions at meals. Today, portion sizes have grown two to eight times larger than recommended standard serving sizes, per the NRDC.
2. Cook only the amount of food needed for that meal.
3. Repurpose leftovers rather than dumping them. Clever restaurants constantly find new, tasty second-life for cooked, unserved foods, especially meats.
4. Write a grocery shopping list, and stick to it. Don't be dazzled by deals and displays for which you have no specific recipes or plans. Be aware that grocery stores will tempt you mercilessly to make that useless impulsive purchase.
5. Educate yourself on how to buy and store produce, and on the shelf life of various fruits and veggies. And don't buy more than you will realistically use within one week.
6. Use overripe produce, don't dump it. Overripe fruit is perfect for delicious smoothies and homemade popsicles. Overripe tomatoes and other veggies are ideal for home-simmered sauces.
7. Still have food waste? Toss it in a compost pile... yours or a community compost pile... to nurture future gardens. And our future food supply.
Your household goal should be zero food waste! It's good for your budget. Good for our world, Good for your soul.