Simple Ways to Combat Food Waste by Alison Mountford, Chef
This weekend for Wellness on the Weekend I reached out to Alison Mountford, Chef and Food Waste expert. Alison is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. She has 15 years of experience as a professional chef and entrepreneur. Her first business, an early model in meal delivery, was sold in 2015. She is a 2018 Rubicon Waste Fit Champion and advocate for reducing waste.
I wanted to understand more about food waste and what simple steps we can do to combat it.
Why Should We Care About Food Waste?
If you're reading a column about wellness, you probably already believe that what you put into your body matters and you can fuel your mind, body, and sprit by eating well. Maybe you buy organics or shop at a farmer's market to be mindful about how your food waste grown. I suggest then, that the next logical step is thinking about what happens to those foods when you don't eat them all.
Americans waste 40% of all of the food we produce and when it rots in landfills it's responsible for a significant amount of green house gas emissions. When it's composted, it's marginally better because there's less methane released, but, edible food that isn't eaten is still a waste of other precious and limited resources: water, time, gas, labor, land (that required a lack of trees in favor of farming), money.
We need to revamp our food systems to prepare for the effects of climate change and a growing global population. To feed the billions of new people on Earth by 2050 we can either raze more forests - exacerbating the carbon problem - or we can eat the food we already produce. It's a rather obvious choice!
And luckily, unlike so many of the calls to action you've encountered recently, reducing food waste starts with your fridge and your wallet. You already possess everything you need to be part of the solution!
Please share a few basic ways we can reduce our food waste:
Buy Less Food: This is easy to pull off if you write a grocery list before you leave the house. Check your fridge and pantry to see what you have already and avoid relying on your memory. Make an effort to use up what you have - green lentils lying around? Can you cook curried lentils and rice for dinner this week? Try to recalibrate your family's comfort level between leaving the cupboards bare and having a mini-Costco in your pantry. You probably don't need as much as you have in back-up.
Meal Plan: This can be simple or complex, I've built my entire business around making it easier! Regardless of how you want to solve the problem, having some idea of the week ahead will help you decide how much to buy and when to cook it. You could jot down ideas like "BBQ monday / taco tuesday / pasta wednesday / our on Thursday" etc. Or, go so far as to choose the actual recipes and compile all of the ingredients into a list. Having a plan will save you time and emotional labor of having to make a stressful decision in the heat of the moment on Monday at 5:45 pm when everyone is Hangry.
Just Eat It: Is this one the easiest or the most challenging? Its WILLPOWER! When you fill that fruit basket - eat it! When you have leftovers and need lunch - eat it! When you have half a cucumber and its snack time - eat it! I like to reward myself with the promise of take out or a planning to cook my favorite meal tomorrow, if I give in to eating leftover tonight.
Alison Mountford, Chef
Ends+Stems will tell you what’s for dinner tonight and make it easy to reduce food waste at home. Exclusive, easy to follow recipes specifically created to taste amazing while using up everything you buy each week. Ends+Stems meal plans are created weekly and posted to your personalized dashboard. With one click, you’ll generate a grocery checklist and a weekend prep-ahead list. Shop online or at your favorite stores, buy less, and follow along as we guide you through your week free of food waste and full of delicious dinners.