Vicki Robin

How Much is Enough: The Importance of Eliminating Food Waste

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Did you know that we waste an estimated 27% of the food available for consumption in the U.S.?  That works out to approximately one pound of food wasted every day for every American.  I read these statistics in a New York Times article one year ago and was so stunned that they have stuck with me ever since.  Food waste is so common in our country that we don’t always even notice it.  But it became glaringly obvious to me after I had children.  So I decided to do what I could as a mom and a citizen to eliminate food waste.  First of all, I observed myself saying to my girls (Elli, 6 and Bella, 3) “We don’t waste in this house.”  This means that I give them a straw when they eat breakfast cereal so that they can finish every drop of the organic milk; don’t cut off the crust from bread or peel an apple before they eat it; and only make one entree for dinner each night which they can choose to eat or not.  We don’t fight about food.  I think that’s because whenever I am fully confident in a decision that I make, my girls are much more likely to accept the “rules” without fuss.  I try to be kind in the process.  For example, each of my girls keeps a mental list of three things they don’t like to eat (Elli’s are chocolate, green peppers or mushrooms).  But since my younger daughter’s favorite food is spaghetti with green peppers and mushrooms, I still make dinners with these ingredients which Elli then can pick out and set aside.   This is kind of a tough topic to cover in a blog because there are so many nuances to the discussion.  But I feel that by taking a stand on this issue, I have already undeniably expanded the variety of foods my children like to eat and hope over time that it will help them develop some compassion as well.  I have lots of strategies I’ve developed on this topic that work for our family (including plenty of ideas for the creative use of leftovers, bruised fruit and the like) so if you want us to write more about these kinds of tips or have some ideas of your own to share, just leave a comment or email me here.

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  1. IDEA: To *really* save food, why not treat your daughters to a “pasta buffet”. Cook up a pot of pasta and serve it with small bowls of chopped peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, whatever. Elli and Bella (and their super-cool parents) can each choose what they want to add to their individual bowl of pasta. You cook once, but everybody gets exactly what they like, and the girls will probably have a blast creating their own artistic meal!

  2. Peeling an apple or cutting of the crust always seemed to me like a stupid idea to be honest. Both these things add flavor, plus when you take a slice of bread and cut off the crust, you lose what, 20% ? that’s just dumb ;)
    I’m looking forward to more specific tips :)

  3. Seeing as the problem in America is obesity, not hunger I think that throwing away uneaten food is better than stuffing your face with it just so it doesn’t go to waste. It’s better that those fatsos eat 3/4 of the pizza and throw away the rest than to force the whole thing down their throats.

  4. I would love to learn more tips on keeping fruit, etc, from spoiling. As far as bananas…a great tip I’ve incorporated is that when the bananas are too soft to eat, I peal them, wrap them in plastic wrap & then a ziploc bag & put them in the freezer. They make the best fruit smoothies, because they both sweeten & thicken the smoothie as well as make it nice & cold. I also use them to make banana nut breads.

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