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Food Waste Prevention

According to CalRecycle’s 2014 Disposal-Facility-Based Characterization of Solid Waste in California, food waste accounts for approximately 21% of the residential waste stream making it the largest portion of residential disposed waste. The United Nations Environment Program states that if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Food Waste Facts*

  • America wastes up to 40% of all food
  • A family of four spends $1,500 a year on food they don’t eat
  • Every American wastes 290 pounds of food per year
  • 76% of people believe they throw out less food than the average American.
Best if used - food package

Understanding Date Labels*

Food expiration dates have less to do with food safety, and are more related to quality. They’re the manufacturer’s best estimate of when the product is at its freshest or “peak quality.” Many foods will still be good to eat days, weeks, or months after those dates, depending on the food and the proper storage conditions.

So, if you’ve been throwing food out on these dates, you’re not alone. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 90 percent of us occasionally throw away food too soon, and over half of us do it regularly, all due to a simple misunderstanding about package dates. Below are some common date messaging and what they truly mean:

  • "BEST BEFORE" - These dates refer to quality rather than food safety. It’s the date before which the brand stands by its product (unless it’s been opened or left out at the wrong temperature). Foods with a “best before” or “use by” date should be safe to eat after the date has passed, but they may no longer be at their very best quality in terms of flavor. This is true for “best by,” “best if used by,” “enjoy by,” and other similar expressions.
  • "FREEZE BY" - One good way to extend the life of food beyond its date is to freeze it. It’s like pushing the pause button on your food. Almost anything can be frozen—meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, unused pasta sauce, etc.
  • “SELL BY" - You can ignore these dates as they are meant for store staff. They actually build in quality so that if the food is sold by that date, you can still get it home and have top-quality shelf life for some time.
  • USE YOUR EYES AND NOSE - For the most part, you can trust your senses to know when food has gone bad. Milk, yogurt, juice, sauces - they can all be subject to the sniff or taste test. Even meat that looks a little faded or gray is okay to eat. CAUTION: The products to be careful with are those that pregnant women, seniors, and young children are told to avoid such as deli meats and unpasteurized dairy products.

Get the Most Out of Your Freezer*

  • FREEZE IN PORTIONS – Plan your meals ahead when buying and freezing your food. For example, you probably won’t need a whole loaf of sliced bread at once, so portion what you’ll use now and refrigerate or freeze the rest.
  • KEEP IT AIRTIGHT - Less air = less freezer burn. Freezer burn is what happens when foods oxidize in the freezer; it is harmless but affects taste. Water crystals that form on frozen foods are perfectly normal and the food is safe to eat.
  • LEAVE ROOM FOR LIQUIDS - Most liquids expand in the freezer, so leave about half an inch at the top of containers to account for this.
  • LABEL AND ORGANIZE - Label containers with contents and date, and use clear containers when possible so you can easily see what’s inside.
  • DEFROST SAFELY - The safest ways to defrost frozen foods are by placing them in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of cold water.
Bag of bread

Tips and Tricks to Revive Your Food and Prevent it from Becoming Waste*

Did you overcook, burn or over salt you meal? Don’t worry here are a few ways to save your meal from going to waste!

  • WILTED - A quick soak in ice water for 5 to 10 minutes is often enough to reinvigorate wilted veggies. Bendy carrots will straighten right up, lettuce will crisp, and limp broccoli will find its strength again. And even if they can’t be restored, some veggies you intended to eat raw carrots, celery, and greens can still shine in a cooked dish.
  • STALE - Toast stale chips and crackers for a minute or two in a regular oven or toaster oven to crisp them right back up. One example is old bread which turns into perfectly acceptable toast or can be cut into cubes for croutons. And those crumbs and small bits at the bottom of a bag of chips or crackers add a lively crunch when sprinkled over salads.
  • SALTY - Is your soup too salty? Add vinegar, lemon juice, or brown sugar to fix the problem or dilute with water, crushed tomatoes or unsalted broth. You can also pop a raw, peeled potato into the pot of soup to absorb some of the salt. Remove the potato before serving and combine it with another boiled potato to make a not too salty mash.