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New tools to prevent food waste this holiday season

Getting ready for a big holiday gathering this week? Careful planning in advance can prevent lots of leftovers and unnecessary food waste after all your guests are gone.

Food waste takes a toll on our economy, our agricultural systems, and our environment. Estimates show that up to 40% of food produced in the United States is never eaten, and U.S. household food waste totals 76 billion pounds, or 238 pounds of food per person annually. This costs you $450 per person, or $1,800 per year for a household of four – all for food that goes straight from your fridge to the trash can.

Nationally, food waste also consumes 21% of all fresh water, 19% of all fertilizer and 18% of cropland. In Johnson County, food waste makes up 23% of our landfill volume, higher than the national average of 21%.

Small changes in how you buy and eat can make a difference around the holidays and all year long. Try these tips to make the most of the food you buy:

  • Shop wisely by planning meals, using a shopping list, purchasing only the amount that you need, and avoiding impulse purchases.
  • Interpret most date labels as estimates of top quality rather than end dates for safety. Visit savethefood.com/storage for an interactive guide on how to use up food that’s past its prime.
  • Prepare appropriate amounts of food and save leftovers.
  • Freeze food before it spoils, including milk, cheese, eggs and meat.

What about that dreaded holiday question – how much food should I make for 20, 30, or 40 guests? Savethefood.com has a great tool called the Guest-imator to help you purchase just the right amount of food for the number of people you’re hosting. That means minimal leftovers and no food wasted.

Look for more food-saving tips in the coming weeks by watching for the hashtag #SaveTheFoodJoCo and enjoy those delicious holiday meals!


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