food…waste not want not



My friend Watson mentioned that October 16 is World Food Day and that the focus this year is on family farming and food waste reduction. So I did a little research. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, founded October 16, 1945, celebrates its founding every year with World Food Day and each year picks a particular theme. The theme for World Food Day 2014 is ‘Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth’. And The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 ‘International Year of Family Farming.‘ According to the FAO, ‘It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.’ 


According to Oxfam, our planet produces enough food to feed every person. But much of that food goes to landfill as waste. So, what to do? Here are a few suggestions if you want to begin at home (because where else can you begin?) to reduce your own food waste. And no, eating your peas won’t save that child in (fill in the blank) from hunger, but if we don’t buy it and waste it here, the resources and investment to grow it might be used elsewhere. This awareness is the beginning of change.

  • Grow something: a tomato plant, herbs, an apple tree. Get to know where food comes from, eat what you grow, share with your neighbors. And come to understand what grows in your area. Buy most of your food when it is in season (hard to do with chocolate, coffee and coconut if you live in northern California, I know….you don’t need to go crazy). You will waste less if you limit your buying to what is seasonal.
  • Buy glass containers or save glass jars for storage. Not only does your food look more appetizing, but you can actually see it! If you store food in plastic it’s harder to keep track of.
  • Make smoothies. Most anything that grows can go in a smoothie.
  • Get a veggie and/or fruit box from a local CSA and plan your meals around the week’s delivery. It’s like getting a present every week complete with recipes. Here’s a link to my CSA. This will get you $10 off (and I get a credit as well….full disclosure). The CSA I’ve been buying from for years is called Farm Fresh to You and is run by the Barsotti brothers who learned farming from their mom, Kathleen Barsotti, who, along with her husband Martin Barnes, bought land in 1976 when they were still grad students at UC Davis. They learned to farm, raised a farming family and now their boys are raising their families in the same manner. Not only are they providing food, they are providing jobs and tending the land in a manner that will allow it to produce food for generations to come. If you decide to join a CSA, get to know them….go visit the farm, read their newsletter, be a vicarious farmer.
  • Check out this English website Love Food Hate Waste for ideas about how to avoid leftovers and what to do with them if you make too much. They even have an app (which I clearly haven’t tried yet…see the next paragraph).
  • We often have lots of food in our fridge from past meals. Since I can’t not make too much food (just deal with the double negative, ok?) one of my family’s favorite dinners is ‘leftover night.’ The easiest meal of the week is the one where I pull out all of the leftovers and everyone chooses what they’d like. This is the only time I’m willing to be my family’s short order cook.

On a larger scale, food waste from restaurants, congregations, farmer’s markets, etc. often ends up in landfill. Here in Marin County we’ve got an organization called Extra Food that picks up larger quantities of food and delivers these leftovers to organizations that feed people in need. They refer to themselves as a ‘food rescue service helping to end hunger and reduce waste in Marin’. Before you scoff, yes, there are plenty of people in need in Marin. Get involved if you want to pick up food, call them if you have food to donate.

Enjoy your version of World Food Day…eat well and consciously and share your bounty.

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