By: Julia S. Buckley, MS, RD
Newswise — March marks the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign focused on the importance of making informed food choices and promoting healthy eating and physical activity habits.
This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and it encourages us to not only start our day with a healthy breakfast, but to be mindful of our food choices, meal planning and meal preparation in an effort to reduce food loss and waste. Learning how to manage food resources at home and how to cut back on your food waste will help us all to “Go Further with Food” while also saving nutrients and money.
Food waste, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is when any edible item goes unconsumed, whether from grocery stores discarding “ugly” produce or consumers leaving food on their plates. Food loss is available food that goes uneaten after being harvested due to agricultural conditions or improper storage. Billions of pounds of food are estimated to be thrown away each year, which is equivalent to approximately 300 pounds per American. This food waste results not only in wasted money for consumers, but in wasted nutrients as the more commonly discarded foods include fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood—meaning losses of protein, dietary fiber and important vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D.
Wasted food affects the economy and the environment, but a lot of it can be prevented, especially at home. Here are a few ways that you can help reduce and prevent food waste:
- Plan meals based on foods that are already in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry; choose recipes that utilize those ingredients and only buy the ones you don’t have.
- Buy only food that you can consume or freeze within a few days.
- Put foods that spoil fast within sight.
- Utilize proper storage techniques and only wash produce right before using.
- Get creative with leftovers.
- Be mindful of portion sizes when preparing food at home and when ordering out.
With a little effort, we can all make an impact on reducing food waste and its effects on our economy and environment. Get started today! For more information and tips, visit https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month