Food waste in America is beyond what most Americans even realize. Forty percent of produce is lost in transportation before even reaching the shelves of your grocery store. At restaurants and hotels, once the meal is served, twenty-five percent of the meal on average is thrown away. There is a lot of waste in our food system and that waste not only creates just the food but think about all the resources that are a part of the food production: gasoline for transport and tractors, petroleum-based fertilizer, water and all the work of the farmer.
Speaker or Video program
- What’s your favorite go to meal to get veggies into your kid(s)?
- What’s your favorite freezer meal for when there’s no time to cook?
- What is our call to care for God’s creation when it comes to preparing meals?
- What are some things you can think to do to help reduce food waste in your family’s routine?
- What can you do at church or school to help reduce food waste?
- What three things will you start doing at home to rethink how food is bought and consumed?
• EEN Handout 5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste - CreationCare.org
• Ways to Waste Less Food and Help the Environment - Moms Clean Air Force
• Composting at Home - EPA
• Jesus cared about the scandal of food going to waste and so should you - Christianity Today
Additional activities for off MOPs meeting weeks
Volunteer at the local food bank. See if you can volunteer a food reclamation non-profit. Help plant a church garden or help plan a church garden. Have a MOPs playdate at a You-pick organic farm. Have a picnic at a community garden.
Sometimes it's easy to think that small acts of creation care is meaningless, but in fact if they are viewed as a small act of gratefulness, gratitude or obedience then using one less straw or turning off a light that is not being used becomes part of your daily walk of discipleship. If we want to be intentional about our walk with Jesus, then taking care of creation alongside of honoring your husband, loving your kids, practicing the fruits of the spirit makes a whole lot of sense.
Deeper Explanation of the Handcard
When we designed the handcards, we wanted quick things that were easy to implement into your daily life, but some of you might be curious about why these simple things can actually add up to big changes. Here are some reasons reducing food waste can support positive changes in your community and for those who suffer from hunger:
1. Support your local farmers and produce. In the last ten years, America has seen an explosion in small local farming. Small farmers are a benefit to a community for many reasons. One, eating local produce reduces the amount of gasoline needed to get food to your table. Did you know the average piece of food travels 1,500 miles to get to your meal? If you could reduce 10% of your meal each time what kind of air pollution and gas reductions would happen? By supporting a local farmer, your food is fresher and more nutritionally dense. The minute your vegetables and fruits are harvested they start losing their nutrients. The average length of time a piece of produce travels to the super market is six weeks. By supporting a local farmer you are getting healthier foods for your family. Build a relationship with your farmer and if he is planting using organic methods then see if they have a local family fun day. It's a great family activity and it teaches your kids about where their food comes from. If your kids think all food comes on a styrofoam tray and wrapped in plastic, then time to get the kids to the farm.
2. Split food at restaurants. We all know it. The food at restaurants comes in bigger and bigger portions. Restaurants say it's because their customers demand value. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that it's way too much food. So split your meals. In fact, I ask for a box the minute the food arrives at the table. If you can agree on one item split the food at the table. Americans throw away 25% of the food that arrives at the table in restaurants. Does that feel right? Can we justify hunger in America when we know 25% of the food at restaurants is being thrown away? So let's rethink the way we eat out. Let's be prepared to split and take home leftovers.
3. Grow some of the basics like lettuce and herbs. Did you know lettuce is the most fragile vegetable that we transport? Forty percent of the fruits and vegetables that are transported get lost in transportation. Forty percent. Think about all the water, energy, labor that went into growing our food that is waste before it hits our grocery store much less our table. Don't we all pull off exterior lettuce leafs when we get ready to prepare it?
Here's another fact. Eighty percent of the lettuce grown in January gets transported to the east coast from the most arid state in the country. Where is this lettuce grown? In Arizona! Please understand, we are not saying don't eat lettuce. We are saying you can grow it at home. It's essentially like grass. You can actually grow it indoors in a well lit window. Herbs are the same way. And don't you always end up throwing away half the bunch anyway? Either the bunch is too big and you don't need it or half of it goes bad before you use it all. What if you could pick just the right amount from a pot in a window? It's also a great lesson for the kids to learn how things grow. Just grow one thing and see how it changes meal time.
4. Donate food before it expires. It's hard. A lot of us are blessed with abundance. That includes full pantries. How often do you clean out your pantry? Do you have cans of food from the last decade? Funny but maybe not so funny. Put it on your calendar. Clean out your pantry every 3 months. It can become a job for the kids. It teaches them to read labels and teaches them the value of food. Not feeling it even though you bought it? Then donate it to the local food pantry. It helps others and it doesn't end up in the landfill. Keep track for one year how much you donated and maybe that will help you be a better shopper. Then you can take all those savings and just make a shopping trip for the food bank instead of a pantry clean-out.
5. Purchase food on a family plan. Don't make impulse buys. So read number 4 again. How many times did the impulse purchase lead to the regular purchase being left on the shelf too long? It's hard. We get it. A grocery store is full of items that are preying on your impulses. It's sad to think about but it's true. Today's victory of overcoming the temptation, can become next week's pitfall. That's why making a list and sticking to the list is so important and if you can plan out a week of meals even if it is the protein then shopping becomes easier. We know you don't want your kids to become part of the obesity-childhood diabetes problem. Shopping for whole fruits and vegetables that are on a list will help you achieve that goal. You want your family meals to reflect your Christian values of gratitude and honoring God. Changing the way you shop and eat can do all of that with some simple steps.