Weekly Column from Johanna Hicks for May 31st, 2019: Get a Taste for Reducing Food Waste

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Get a Taste for Reducing Food Waste

               Have you ever wondered how much food is wasted?  A simple definition of food waste is edible food that is lost, discarded, or uneaten.  Research suggests that as much as 40% of the edible food produced in this country goes to waste.  That is enough to fill the Rose Bowl – every day!  On a household level, USDA estimates that as much as 20 pounds of food per person per month is wasted.

               Across the United States, the foods wasted most often at the consumer level (household) include dairy products, fresh produce, meat, and grains.  Us to 20% of the food wasted in the home is from leftovers.  So, why should we care?  Food production in the U.S. requires land, energy, and water.  If that food is wasted, so is the water and the energy (along with other resources such as labor, fertilizers, and pesticides) used to produce it.  An estimated 97% of wasted food ends up in a landfill.  Many communities are working to reduce this through food donation programs and composting, but more needs to be done.

               Wasted food = wasted money.  Researchers have estimated that the total value of food loss is between $371 and $400 per person.  At the federal level, The Environmental Protection Agency (EAP) has recommended strategies for reducing food waste.  The most preferred strategy is to reduce the volume of surplus food that is generated.  The next step is to take extra food that is not used to food banks, soup kitchens, and other emergency food programs.  Other strategies include using food scraps as animal feed, but this may not be permissible in large-scale, commercial production operations.  Composting is another option.  The least desirable method of disposing food waste is to place it in a land fill.  Because the majority of food waste occurs at the consumer level, there are strategies that can be adopted in the home to reduce food waste.

This is where “Get A Taste for Reducing Food Waste” comes in!  This is a 4-topic series from realistic meal planning to composting.  The goal of this program is to help individuals get a feel for how much food they are wasting and then adopt one or more strategies to reduce it (and hopefully save a little money in the process!) The four topics are 1) knowing your own food inventory, 2) planning meals and shopping smart, 3) storing foods properly (emphasis on food label dates), and 4) home composting.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Hopkins County, will be piloting this 4-topic series before it is released statewide.  We invite anyone interested in the topic to join us!  Here are the details:

  • What:  Get a Taste for Reducing Food Waste
  • Dates:  Monday, August 12, and Thursday, August 15
  • Time: 10:00 a.m.
  • Where:  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Hopkins County Office, 1200 W. Houston, Sulphur Springs
  • Call: 903-885-3443 to reserve a seat so adequate preparations can be made

Because we are piloting the program, there is no cost!  Our Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteers and Master Gardeners will be assisting with the program.

Food preservation Publications

               Our office has received a few phone calls about home food canning.  This is the season!  We have free publications on canning and freezing fruits and vegetables, pickles, salsas, jams and jellies.  Feel free to drop by, or better yet, give us a call and we’ll put a packet together for you.  And don’t forget about the vegetable cookbook we are offering free of charge!  Just aske for it.

Closing Thought

“Fear paralyzes.  Hope mobilizes” – Rudolph Giuliani

Recipe of the Week

Creamed Spinach Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 russet baking potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups low-fat milk
  • 1 bag (10 ounces) spinach, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ᵒF.  Scrub potatoes with water and pat dry.
  2. Rub potatoes with vegetable oil and poke them with a fork.  Lay them directly on the oven rack.
  3. Cook the potatoes for 45 to 60 minutes, until skin is crispy.
  4. In a large pan, cook minced onions in butter over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add spinach and milk; cook 7-8 minutes until mixture is thick and creamy.
  7. Slice open a baked potato and add creamed spinach.

Nutritional info (per potato): 340 calories; 9 grams fat; 53 grams carbohydrate; 7 grams fiber; 12 grams protein

Source: Extension’s “I Love Vegetables” cookbook

 

 

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