Happy Quarantine Earth Day, Conscientious Food Consumers!
It's the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and the theme is Climate Action, as it should be! We applaud the roll out this Earth Day of a campaign called "FoodPrints for the Future," challenging us to accept responsibility for the impacts of our food choices and habits on our planet's livability.
As it so happens, that's a huge part of our objective with the No Food Left Behind project as well! Prevention of wasted food is also a key component of the Corvallis Climate Action Plan.
In our first installment of our new Kitchen Confessions blog, we pointed out how the impacts of wasted food deplete the Earth's resources along every step of the food chain - from the production and distribution process to right here in our own kitchens and on our plates. With nearly 8 billion mouths to feed, we can see how food waste quickly becomes the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet! We can all DO something about that.
But as we all know, this Earth Day is different: How can we exercise greater environmental awareness in the midst of a worldwide pandemic? There are plenty of ideas at Earthday.org, and countless other websites. NFLB's parent organization, the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, has launched a new page called "Building Resilience," with local resources for helping us stay connected to community and to support more Earth-friendly lifestyles in the midst of this crisis.
So now that most of us are sheltering at home, we have to put A LOT more time and energy into planning, shopping, storing, preparing, cooking and re-storing meals for ourselves and our loved ones. In the US, most are no longer shopping as often, we're 'stocking up' each time we do go, and we're much more inclined to think ahead about our how to feed ourselves and our families. And of course, we're being more careful with our food budgets.
This makes it all the more important to get the most out of your groceries and those food dollars! NFLB's "Smart Strategies" are designed to help you, as conscientious food consumers, do just that.
- Take stock of what you have on hand as you stock up. Download and fill out your "Smart Shopping" and Meal Planner lists BEFORE heading out on your grocery expedition.
- Guidelines for proper storage of groceries (after appropriate disinfection!). We have reference guides for freezing some of the beautiful fresh fruits and other produce you may have gotten at the Farmers' Market or store, and a handy Freezer Inventory Sheet for keeping track of what's in there. Don't freeze it and forget it!
- Eat First! fridge/pantry shelf reminders for all those partial food portions and leftover ingredients that can easily get "left behind." As you can see from our own "Kitchen Confessions" below, it's something we can all use -- Every Day, Every Meal!
- If you are sheltering with kids, now's the perfect time to help them learn about all of this too!
Now, normally you could see these materials in person and have a chance to talk about food issues with me, your friendly Outreach Specialist, at our booth at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers' Markets. Our program isn't tabling right now, but we hope you'll be able to shop the downtown Farmers' Market, which opened last weekend for the season with plenty of appropriate safeguards for Covid-careful patrons and vendors. We look forward to returning to the Market's "free speech zone" as soon as it's prudent!
While sheltering at home, I've had time to dig into my own fridge and freezer and "take stock" of what's on hand. I discovered these items at the back of the fridge... what a waste of wonderful preservative-free sliced turkey and 2-3 servings of jack cheese! These had once occupied a prominent spot on my "Eat First!" shelf, but got pushed back when I added new items.
$$$ WASTED: About $8
LESSON LEARNED: Use a Meal Planner to guide daily decisions; use up or rotate items on my "Eat First" shelf frequently!
Bought freezer waffles for my teen, but she didn't like the flavor so we should have eaten them instead - they lingered in the freezer well past their "best by" date and got freezer burned!
Organic grapes were stored correctly in their bag in the crisper drawer, but some were forgotten! Many still tasted fine even though they were ugly, but the ones with cracks became moldy and inedible.
$$$ WASTED: About $4
LESSONS LEARNED: Next time eat them sooner! Repackage waffles into resealable freezer bag and remove air. Eat grapes sooner by placing in fridge "Eat First!" section, or attaching "Eat First!" sign.