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How to Make a Change for Stop Food Waste Day
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.
"Food waste is a massive issue facing us all," Compass CEO Dominic Blakemore said on the Stop Food Waste Day website. "As the world's leading food service company operating in 50 countries, it is part of our social purpose to raise awareness and make a positive impact to reduce waste across the world."
So how can you reduce your waste? The website offers some tips.
- Make a list before shopping and only buy what you need.
- Freeze leftovers like bread, fruit and vegetables if you don't have time to eat them fresh.
- Be especially careful with meat and poultry because it uses so much water to raise; wasting a pound of beef is like running the shower 370 minutes.
- Don't toss wilting veggies; letting them sit in water for five to 10 minutes should revive them.
- If you accidentally overcook veggies, use them for soups or sauces instead of tossing them.
- Seal food tightly before freezing to avoid freezer burn, which is caused by oxidization and makes food less appetizing.
- Eat bananas even if they have brown spots.
- If you have children, start them off with small portion sizes.
- Ninety percent of people throw away food before it's really bad, so make sure something really can't be eaten before throwing it out.
- Check your fridge before shopping and meal plan to avoid waste.
You can also take the Stop Food Waste pledge to spread awareness on social media.
In honor of the day, Rachael Jackson wrote for National Geographic about why so much food is wasted.
One important reason is that people put too much faith in use-by dates. A study found that people were more likely to think older milk was drinkable if it didn't have a date; conversely, milk with a fresher date that was actually low quality was rated just fine by many participants.
Jackson also wrote that people are more likely to let themselves off the hook if they think the food they toss will be composted.
"Composting is not a bad thing, but you'd prefer to not create the food waste in the first place. It's going to have a lot more social and environmental benefits," Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative Director Brian Roe told Jackson.
Several groups and companies are trying to find innovative solutions to the food waste problem. The Brooklyn-based frozen pizza Scraps, for example, uses ingredients like broccoli leaves for pesto that are normally not eaten.
"We'd both recently heard that 40 percent of food is wasted in the U.S. each year, and we talked about how we could become part of the solution," co-founder Jessica Smith told Edible Brooklyn.
UK grocery chain Waitrose found a way to both reduce food waste and fight climate change in 2017 by using gas from discarded food, which produces 70 percent less carbon dioxide than diesel, to power delivery trucks, as Fast Company reported.
In our own kitchens, each of us can also make a change."I do think awareness is slowly growing," Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook Dana Gunders told National Geographic. "But I think there's still a disconnect between being aware that this is a global problem and connecting that to what you're actually doing when you scrape your plate into the garbage."
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
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"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
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"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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