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Wasted

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Jonathan Bloom, Wasted Food blogger and the author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It) talks about why half of America's food goes uneaten and what consumers can do to cut waste.

What are your tips for cutting down on food waste?

Guests:

Jonathan Bloom

The Morning Brief

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Comments [43]

Frank from Morristown, NJ

The Bloom's suggestion that food stores sell discounted "less than perfect" produce could be dangerous. Vegetables, especially celery, produce toxins as they begin to spoil.Could be a real problem for elderly who shop for bargains but may not have the vision to detect real spoilage.

Dec. 13 2010 12:29 PM
stephanos from Queens

composting program in western queens, www.facebook.com/wqnscompost you can bring fall leaves and shriveled jack-o-laterns, too!

Nov. 10 2010 06:59 AM
stephanos from Queens

composting program in western queens, www.facebook.com/wqnscompost you can bring fall leaves and shriveled jack-o-laterns, too!

Nov. 10 2010 06:58 AM
lia kaufman from Carmel, NY

stop restaurants (like diners) from automatically putting milky cole slaw and pickles on the table without asking if they are wanted. I was just thinking how wasteful this was yesterday while eating at a diner. Or crackers next to the soup or even ugly, bitter garnish and slices of orange. Lemon wedges too. All of these things cannot be re-presented on another table. Today I bought a sandwich and they stuffed about 10 napkins in the bag. Fast food places throw a bunch of ketchup packets in the bag, even without me asking for it. Total disregard for the waste.

Nov. 09 2010 12:33 PM
William from Manhattan

We love our worm bin from LES Ecology Center. We've had it in our NYC apartment kitchen for nearly a month now. No funky smells and the worms are good family pets! So much fun to see vegetable, fruit scraps, flowers, tea and coffee going to them and not in our garbage. My wife will use the compost for her community garden plot. Paper from the paper shredder makes great bedding - newspapers work too.
http://bit.ly/cTo5Id

Nov. 09 2010 12:31 PM
Naomi from Prospect Farm

Prospect Farm in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn accepts compost from 11am to noon on Saturdays. 1194 Prospect Ave at Seeley St.

Compost for Brooklyn on Newkirk Ave too!

Nov. 09 2010 12:20 PM
Renee from Brooklyn

Thanks for bringing up this important topic. I write about reducing food waste in your kitchen, one of my favorite tricks is using vegetable trimmings and scraps to make tasty vegetable broth. Magic! http://www.kitchentablescraps.com/2008/10/vegetable-broth.html

Nov. 09 2010 11:08 AM
carolita from NYC

Two words: smaller refrigerators.

When I lived in a garret, and had only a minibar, I wasted no food at all. It's hard to buy too much food when you have a small fridge.

Nov. 09 2010 11:07 AM
amanda from brooklyn

composting really has almost nothing to do with food waste- the vast majority of the food that gets wasted is wasted before it reaches our homes/kitchens. turning that into compost is a good thing to do, sure, but what really needst to be addressed are the tons of perfectly good food thrown out every week by bakeries, grocery stores, and specialty stores.

individual composting may make you feel good, but in terms of effect for effort, is too difficult here in the city. and i'd argue that people who care enough to compost are also taking care to not waste too much food uneaten.

we desperately need more composting sites-- i live in brooklyn and end up taking my compostables in to the union square green market when i can.

therepurposedrivenlife.com

Nov. 09 2010 11:04 AM
ENNNGEE

Did Brian mention a smart phone app for determining if food is still good? what is it?

Nov. 09 2010 11:03 AM
The Truth from Becky

The food we waste here is more thank they could ever eat in month most third world countries.

Nov. 09 2010 11:03 AM
The Truth from Becky

People have been campaigning and claiming to be collecting but actually stealing money in the name of Africa long enough. "Aid to Africa", "Stop Hunger in Africa", "Dafur" etc....the money does not reach the cause they are STILL STARVING!! Need to work on irrigation and farming.

Nov. 09 2010 11:01 AM
Amy from Manhattan

No--don't sniff or taste food that might be moldy! It takes extremely little mold to cause what can be severe food poisoning.

Nov. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Renee from Brooklyn

Thanks for bringing up this important topic. I write about reducing food waste in your kitchen, one of my favorite tricks is using vegetable trimmings and scraps to make tasty vegetable broth. Magic! http://www.kitchentablescraps.com/2008/10/vegetable-broth.html

Nov. 09 2010 10:58 AM
Robert Sullivan

Dear BLS,
they have a HUGE composting program at the Fort Greene Farmer's Market. I (an author of books among them, sorry, Rats) recently sat on a BBG panel on compost and community gardens and rats and the amount of composting going on at Farmers Markets is rising huge.
Thanks,
Bob

Nov. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Ivan from Sunnyside

I do a lot of catering in NYC, and the amount of food thrown out after each party is horrendous. One day, after working a job at NYU, I couldn't bear the amount of perfectly good sandwiches thrown out. I took a huge tray to Wash Sq Park in order to feed the homeless. When I got there, I realized I couldn't tell who was homeless, and ended up insulting some folks. ( I left the sandwiches next to a man sleeping on the grass!).
I think the restrictions on programs such as City Harvest should be less strict!

Nov. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Matt

I think people need to get away from "the culture of the plastic bag." Those things epitomize waste and are ubiquitous when buying food - even when you don't want one.

Nov. 09 2010 10:57 AM
bernie from bklyn

to kiki the caller- keep talking while i prepare to kill myself(just kiddin')....wish i was your neighbor, holy crap! keep composting, just stop talking!!

Nov. 09 2010 10:57 AM
Rayna from Astoria, NY

what about more composting programs by the city!? San Francisco has done it for years, a bin is allocated to each house. Get with it NYC!

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
Dan from kingston ny

My family composts all of our food waste in our garage (we live in the country). There are four of us and rubbermaid tubs, cinderblocks, and plastic bottles handle vermicompost of all of our food waste. We have five bins.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM

Make sure your fridge is cold enough to keep food fresh. Buy locally -- eat seasonally. Other ways to keep veggies from spoiling -- quickly cook and marinate (while still warm) in a little vinagrette dressing (oil, vinegar, herbs). Tastes delicious -- lasts for weeks -- ready to add to salads or just snack.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM

bring your compost to union square, someone there turns it into soil

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
Brenda from Berlin

I live in Germany where you can buy bread, bacon, etc. by the slice - individual eggs, or a tiny piece of cheese. This definitely reduces waste, being able just to buy what you'll use while it's fresh. In America, though, we often have no choice but to buy more than we need due to how it's packaged.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
sarah from philly

I make really detailed grocery lists, by planning out 4 dinners for the week (which have leftovers for lunch). I make the meals with the perishable fruits and veg earlier in the week and the ones that aren't so perishable later in the week. This way I don't have to go grocery shopping multiple times a week. And a little hint....don't underestimate the power of frozen spinach, use what you need and throw the rest back in the freezer.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
dorothy from SI

I work in a culinary school chefs order for classes and don't use all of it. It always amazes me because they are always saying that they are always over budget. Meanwhile, tons of food gets thrown out!
And they tell me it is not legal to donate it somewhere...I have even offered to deliver it.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
J M Stifle

Here's the biggest source of food waste in NYC: Just about every market, store and bodega hoses down their produce to keep it "fresh." It has the opposite effect. It makes it rot. I guess it's cheaper than proper cooling, but in the end it produces huge waste.

I don't need my food to look perfect. I just won't buy it pre-rotted.

Nov. 09 2010 10:56 AM
k8 from Glen Ridge, NJ

I have a rule that I can not go to the grocery until all perishables are eaten up.
Keep one and donate the other sealed package from the huge discount warehouses to the local food pantry...especially the peanut butter and bread.

Nov. 09 2010 10:54 AM
Greg from Spuyten Duyvil

Portions are insanely huge in many restaurants around the country, particularly in rural or non-city areas but cities are nearly as guilty. CUT PORTIONS, especially in diners and local eateries. Some nearly always ends up getting tossed in the trash, and this also contributes to our nation's obesity epidemic.

Nov. 09 2010 10:54 AM
Robert from Brooklyn

I´m curious about organizations like City Harvest that gather unused food from commercial establishments and distribute them to food banks, etc. Is this a real part of the solution? Or is this not enough to make a difference?

Nov. 09 2010 10:54 AM
ROSSELLA from jersey city

When I'm in Italy and I look at my parents or my sister refrigerator and pantry they do not contain all the food that mine american refrigerator is usually packed with. I think the problem with consumption in America is size of packaging, wholesaler extra large packaging and the fact that we mostly shop once a week in supermarket. In Italy they tend to but what they need daily cutting much of the waste

Nov. 09 2010 10:54 AM
Marie

Check out this blog for great low waste low cost food ideas!

http://marthastalwart.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/coming-soon-save-your-money-buy-our-groceries/

Nov. 09 2010 10:53 AM

How much of this waste comes from restaurants and how much from individuals. Restaurant portions have become so huge that it's probably altered our ideas of how much food to eat for each meal. Eat smaller portions more frequently -- much healthier.

Nov. 09 2010 10:53 AM
Juli from Woodside

Skip the packaging, and buy naked food. When you open the fridge and just see the packaging, you think it is still good, you have time. It is easy for you to stay in denial while it rots. Food that you bring home naked and have to process and package on your own-- that you don't forget.

I put off joining a CSA for years because I thought I'd waste the food. The opposite has happened.

Nov. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Robert from Livingston NJ

My local supermarket used to donate the left over cooked food to local shelters, until one of the recipients sued them. Now the supermarket just throws it away.

Nov. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Juli from Woodside

Skip the packaging, and buy naked food. When you open the fridge and just see the packaging, you think it is still good, you have time. It is easy for you to stay in denial while it rots. Food that you bring home naked and have to process and package on your own-- that you don't forget.

I put off joining a CSA for years because I thought I'd waste the food. The opposite has happened.

Nov. 09 2010 10:52 AM
superf88

Really good stuff from sumukha...

More hardcore tips:
1. White board on refrigerator to list what you have in there/when made (for folks who cook a lot and make left overs) -- to make sure you eat it all!
2. White board on freezer
3. Cook with ingredients rather than or in addition to recipes... this brilliant website makes it easy!
http://recipes.bgkulinar.net/

Nov. 09 2010 10:52 AM
Jamie from LES

I save all my veggie scraps and leftover chicken bones in my freezer for soup stock. Toss these in a crockpot and 8 hours later perfect stock.

Nov. 09 2010 10:50 AM
Jane

I save all vegetable scraps in the freezer and then make vegetable broth

Nov. 09 2010 10:50 AM
bernie from bklyn

i wonder what our newly elected congressmen, michael grimm, thinks about throwing food in the garbage and not finishing what's on your plate. speaking of plates, i wonder what mr. grimm thinks about plates?
what color plate is his favorite? and how about bowls for that matter? what's better, plates or bowls? which borough has better plates and/or bowls, brooklyn or staten island?

Nov. 09 2010 10:50 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

While I've read Mr. Bloom's blog and find it excellent, especially when he speaks to the embedded energy wasted in discarded food, I urge him to talk more about the embedded (virtual) water wasted as well.

Nov. 09 2010 10:49 AM
David

Does composting cut down on the amount of methane that goes into the air?

Nov. 09 2010 10:48 AM
PK

Stop all agricultural subsidies and pay the real cost for our food.

Nov. 09 2010 10:45 AM
sumukha from Short Hills, NJ

lessons learnt from my mom-
1-Do grocery shopping more often, buy just enough for 3 days.
2-restrict yourself to the periphery of any big grocery store. that is where you get fresh food. stay away from the center isles.
3- buy frozen vegetables(in small packs), if you know you don't cook from scratch often.
4-Buy higher quality fresh food, cook from scratch, and freeze left over cooked food.
5-Always go with a shopping list to avoid any impulse purchase.
6-Try eating a bit(fruit) before stepping into a Grocery store.
7-Once you start going to the same store repeatedly, you will not spend too much time looking for your regular stuff. You will spend less and less time grocery shopping, and will end up not taking it as a dreaded chore.
8-invest in good quality glass containers with lids for freezing your food(no BPA scare)
9-Invest in a heavy duty, good quality pressure cooker to cut down on cooking time. Todays pressure cookers aren't like your grandma's. Cooking will no longer be a chore.
10-Learn to cook with spices, makes cooking more interesting, vegetables more appealing.

Nov. 09 2010 08:18 AM

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