I love food – fresh-picked strawberries, corn on the cob, freshly baked bread with a crispy crust… My mom grew up on a small, family farm in southeast Wisconsin. My uncles still farms that same land, so I appreciate the land and where our food comes from. My own small garden makes me realize how much work goes into growing food but also how amazing that fresh food can taste. What I do worry about is the impact of our modern agriculture system on the land with its mass-scale, reliance on fertilizers and pesticides, impacts to water quality, and use of fossil fuels.
With all that energy and time going into food production in this country, up to 40% of the food in the United States is actually never eaten (according to the National Resources Defense Council). At the same time, one in eight Americans do not have enough food to put on their tables. To Carry the Earth, I committed to having zero food waste for 10 days. According to the EPA, reducing food waste saves money, reduces methane emissions from landfills, and prevents pollution in the growing, manufacturing, transporting and selling of food.
I diligently composted, planned meals, creatively used leftovers, and reduced my family’s portion sizes. What I learned was that it was HARD! There were lingering ghosts of outdated food in my fridge (why does salad dressing come in such big containers?!); there are only so many of my daughter’s sandwich crusts I can eat; and some leftovers manage to hide themselves in fridge (I’m looking at you, black beans!). While I wasn’t perfect for those 10 days, it left a lasting mark. Since then, I am much more diligent about food waste. As we head into the summer and gardening season, I will make sure to enjoy all the fruits (and vegetables) of our efforts rather than letting it go to waste.