It’s scary to think about how much food is wasted when there are so many people that don’t get enough to eat each day. Most people tend to take food for granted. We expect restaurants and supermarkets to deliver the best meals with the finest ingredients and supermarkets overflowing with fresh vegetables and fruits that are close to perfect. Whether Americans buy it, consume it or throw it away, we still create the demand for food. It may be these very attitudes that have led to food waste increases of 50 percent in just the last 40 or so years. Are you contributing to food waste?
Contributing Factors to Food Waste
Statistics revolving around American food consumption are alarming to say the least. It has been estimated that 80 percent of the people in third world countries are starving on a daily basis, while Americans are throwing away an average of $165 billion in food every single year! It’s almost unbelievable to think that the average household in America wastes about $2,200 in food each year.
Every stage of the food supply chain contributes to food loss from the farmers, distribution centers, retail stores, food services and meals cooked in our homes.
The food chain begins with the farmer. He plants excess food to combat disease and weather conditions, which may not be sold because of the flood on the market.
If fruits and vegetables grown by the farmer don’t meet buyer quality standards, crops are often left to rot in the fields.
Improper food handling by the middleman often results in a loss of food. Fresh produce and fruits requiring refrigeration are often lost due to poorly organized schedules and mismanagement of refrigerated trucks.
Food loss occurs when rejected shipments are resold to other retailers. The food now has a shorter shelf life and a faster rate of spoilage, which often means a great deal goes in the garbage.
Bulk promotions and marketing contracts control the amount of goods retailers are required to purchase. Overstocking perishable goods frequently results in spoilage and throwing food away.
Retailers create impressive food displays to increase interest and sales. However, much of the food spoils before it can be sold to consumers.
Food Service Operations
Restaurants frequently increase size portions to impress customers, however, most don’t eat all their food. Some of the food is packaged and taken home, but most of it ends up the garbage.
Frequently, chefs pair up side dishes that are unappealing to many customers and those also end up in the garbage can and eventually the landfills.
How Consumers Waste Food
- Buying extra-large meals at restaurants and junk food places that they cannot possibly consume.
- Poor menu planning and shopping without a list leads to over buying of perishable ingredients that soon go bad.
- Cooking excessively large meals when no one in the household eats leftovers. This creates a huge waste of food on a weekly basis.
- Lack of education about food preparation and how long various types of food last. Many shoppers have no knowledge about food spoilage.
- Over buying large amounts of food to take advantage of discount prices that have a short shelf life.
- Misjudging food needs and overstocking refrigerators usually leads to spoiled food that is not edible and must be thrown out.
- Improper storage of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables that cannot be consumed before spoiling.
Options to Reduce Household Food Waste
To start, planning meals and improving food shopping habits goes a long way to reducing waste. Cooking meals that are the appropriate size for members of your household reduces waste by eliminating leftovers that go uneaten.
In addition, learning about food shelf life and spoilage can make a huge impact to reduce food loss. Lastly, consumers can use vacuum sealers for packaging, which keep foods fresher or prevent spoilage by freezing. This process can also reduce the amount of bacteria that is present within foods – because bacteria cannot grow in frozen environments.
Vacuum sealers offer consumers enormous benefits. Basically, you save money by not having to throw away spoiled or freezer burned food. Foods are easily kept fresher and last longer in your refrigerator or freezer. If you haven’t got a vacuum sealer yet, then be sure to read our Vacuum Sealer Reviews guide.
Reducing Food Waste with Vacuum Sealers
- Vacuum sealing dry goods extends the shelf life in particularly humid or hot climates where dry goods typically go bad.
- Sealing refrigerated foods like fresh vegetables or fruits in vacuum-sealed packages makes them last two or three times longer.
- Leftovers last longer and stay fresher when stored in vacuum-sealed packages. This means they are more likely to be eaten by family members and not thrown out.
- Consumers can save money by buying food in bulk. Foods can quickly and easily be packaged and frozen for use later.
Although many areas of the food process contribute to food loss, ultimately the consumer drives demand and wastes large amounts of food. If you’ve experienced high grocery bills and an exceptional amount of food spoilage, now might be the time to consider vacuum sealers and enjoy the benefits.