Somewhere between 30-40% of food produced is wasted. Just take a moment with that one. 30-40% of food is wasted + there are still hungry people in this world...in this country...in my city. Some food waste happens at the farm, because "ugly" or irregular fruits + vegetables don't sell. Some food waste happens at grocery stores + restaurants because of expiration dates + excess. Normalizing imperfect looking foods + making sure excess food gets into the hands of those who need it is an incredibly important part of reducing food waste, but right now I'd like us to focus on reducing our own food waste.
Finding our "enough" when it comes to food will help us reduce our food waste. Let's experiment toward figuring out our personal "enough" when it comes to food.
Step 1 ::
Let's explore our thoughts + feelings + experiences with food. This is a big topic + we could explore weight, history with abundance vs. scarcity, how we view food (comfort, sustenance, pleasure, chore, discomfort, etc.), etc. What comes to mind for you? You might want to ask the others with whom you share food for their thoughts + feelings as well.
Our intentions can guide us forward. What are we moving toward? What do we want our (+ our family's) experiences with food to involve, promote, be?
Just as an example, I think of whole foods, nourishing my family, gathering, pleasure, health, love, local, seasonal, organic, garden, zero-waste...
Let's think through what an appropriate amount of food might be. I'd imagine you have some feelings about whether you tend toward having too much or too little in your home. Also consider how often you want to shop? How much space do you have for food storage? Do you preserve food? How many do you cook for? How often will you pick up food from a restaurant?
We may want to address our feelings of anxiety + fear of scarcity vs. trust that there will be enough at this point. I feel like trust is good for my soul, my sense of well-being + my peace of mind. But I also remember the specific moment in March when I noticed that the checkout lanes in Target were overflowing with people + their full carts. It was those full carts that made me feel like I was competing for a finite amount of stuff. If they were stocking up on toilet paper, I felt like I had no choice to buy a few extra rolls in order to have any at all. I also felt like I should buy some extra cans of soup in case we were all sick at once + couldn't leave the house.
Now some time has passed, and we have a little perspective. What did you learn? Does your stockpile have expiration dates? (If you need a go-bag or choose to keep a buffer, be sure to set reminders on your calendar to rotate items in + out before the expiration dates come...so that you can use things up.)
We've had enough time now in pandemic times to take note of how much food we need to prepare meals at home day by day + week by week. If we haven't tuned in to this or been intentional about what we would like to be eating, now might be the perfect time. ;)
Let's get real about what we have. Get in the pantry, the cupboards, the fridge, the garage, the basement + take stock. Pull things out of hiding. Wipe down the shelves.
What thoughts are coming to the surface? How does this make you feel?
Our goal is to:
- take a look at each + every food item
- note the expiration date
- set aside expired things...take note + consider how to avoid this waste in the future
- designate a spot in the cabinet, in the fridge, in the freezer, etc. for things to use soon
- make meals out of what you have (prioritizing the must-use-soon items)
- eat those meals until you can't make any more meals out of what you have
- make a meal plan/grocery list prioritizing what you have + only adding things to the list that fill in the blanks
You may decide to donate non-expired non-perishables that you are ready to let go to a food bank. Make note not to purchase these again...or at least not in the quantity that led to this excess. Donate with intention next time. :)
Step 4 ::
For the next month, repeat the last three bullet points in Step 3 at your preferred meal planning/grocery shopping intervals.
Some might be able to eat what they already have for quite a while...maybe even the whole month. Maybe you can decide what you will spend your savings on...paying down debt? saving toward something? donating money to a food bank?
Observe + note your feelings. What do you learn about "enough" in regards to food? Track spending + waste. How would you like to move forward?
Further thought + exploration:
- Build awareness of the scarcity mindset + work towards recognizing "enough".
- Build awareness of food waste + the needs of others.
- Work toward building an abundance mindset.
- We've lived through a time when we were aware of shortages like meat. Consider alternatives + solutions which move you away from feelings of scarcity. Could you eat less meat? Consider intentionally embracing some delicious meatless meals.
- What are some proactive ways to fight food insecurity? How can we improve food security for all of us?
- Become a part of sustainable solutions. Where does food come from? Make connections with farmers. Sign up for a CSA right now to ensure your food security into the next year.
- Consider planting a garden.
- Lobby for a vacant lot to become a free community garden space. Educate yourself about real food insecurity in your area. Get involved. Participating in the bigger picture helps us to see ourselves in proper perspective. Let's be part of collective solutions...a web of strength!
Find our other experiments with less in the kitchen here: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05.