Forty percent of all U.S. food gets tossed

In the U.S., nearly 40% of all food produced is wasted — that’s the equivalent of 365 million pounds of food every day. It’s a huge problem that affects the environment by wasting resources and contributing to climate change. In California, innovators are working to cut food waste from grocery stores, farms, and homes.

You can join in and help fight climate change — all while filling up on strawberries, downing milk, and maybe saving some money. Here are tips to get you started on combating food waste in your home:

Be a sensible shopper

Plan your meals in advance — you’re less likely to overbuy when you know what you need. Eating out? Going out of town? Mapping out your meals helps you adjust your grocery cart contents to take this into consideration. Before you leave for the store, make sure you do a quick inventory to ensure you don’t already have some of the ingredients you think you need.

Store it right

Make sure you know what foods can be stored together and what needs to be separate. Fruits like bananas, apples, and tomatoes give off gases as they age, ripening other nearby produce quicker. Store those fruits separately. If you can’t resist a bargain on veggies or fruits, canning and preserving them is a great way to give them a longer life.

Use smaller plates

Since 1960, our plates have increased in size by 36%. Research has shown that most people are likely to increase portion sizes to match their plates. Using a smaller plate will ensure you’ll only take as much as you can eat and it’ll prevent you from overstuffing yourself.

Use expiration and use-by dates as guidelines

While use-by or sell-by dates are often used by companies to help maintain quality, not safety, these dates can cause people to overreact and toss away perfectly good food. Recent efforts have attempted to update the sell-by and expiration regulations in California. Knowing the difference between sell-by, use-by, best-by, and expiration dates can help you determine what food is safe to eat.

Log it

One of the best ways to track your progress is to write down what gets wasted. Keep a kitchen journal to monitor what you toss out — you might be surprised by the amount of food that goes into the bin. Tracking how much you toss might help you cut down on your grocery store costs. Right now, a family of four in the U.S. spends $1,500 a year on food they don’t eat.

Learn more about what Vox calls the “world’s dumbest problem.”

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