15 delicious ways to reduce food waste.

I wouldn’t claim to be an environmental whiz kid, but I do the best I can.

I truly believe that even the smallest effort can make a huge difference. I read the numbers on the bottom of my plastic containers to make sure they can be recycled. I use empty bottles of wine to help water my plants — that’s really a win-win because I no longer have to remember to water them! But, I fall short in a few areas. I rarely finish a plate of food and have been guilty of tossing everything in my fridge in search of the one item that’s causing a funk.

Then I learned about food waste. And it’s no joke.

Food is the single largest contributor to landfills, and 40% of food in the U.S. is never eaten. That's a whole lot! But food waste isn't just about what winds up in our trash cans. Producing all of that wasted food uses over 20% of the U.S. supply of freshwater — that's more water than is used by California, Texas, and Ohio combined — and creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as 33 million passenger cars.


Trash on trash on trash. And it doesn't all have to be! Image via Petrr/Flickr.

And food is a tricky issue in general. At the same time all of this food is being wasted, there are so many places, in the U.S. and abroad, where families simply do not have access to the nutritious foods that are out there.

Given all this, it seemed worth taking a look at ways to reduce food waste — or, at the very least, our individual food waste. These tips aren't a cure-all, but doing just a little bit can help to make these very big issues just a bit smaller. Here are a few of my favorites.

First things first: In an ideal world, our food wouldn't go bad.

Sometimes we can’t avoid it. We put a pear at the bottom of a bowl, and by the time we get to it, it’s becoming pear cider. But that’s what refrigerators are for! Did you know that those drawers at the bottom serve a specific purpose? I didn’t. Turns out, it's called a crisper for a reason. Want to become an expert at storing your fruits and veggies? Here are a few tips:

  • Potatoes, onions, and tomatoes don't need to be kept in the fridge. It's actually better if they aren't.
  • Salad greens should be stored in bags filled with a little air and sealed tightly. As someone who tries to remove all air from ziplock bags, this was an interesting tip.
  • Not all fruits can be stored together: Avocados, bananas, and kiwis produce ethylene as they ripen, so they need to be separated from fruits like apples to prevent the latter from going bad.  

Those two drawers? They aren't just for top shelf overflow. Image via LaraLove/Wikimedia Commons.

Now, if you have a few food items that are already past their prime, there’s still time! These recipes are for you.

Full disclosure: I tried a few of these myself, but most of the delicious goodness you’re about to see is courtesy of the DIY mavens online.

Bruised fruit just ... isn’t cute. But it’s still delicious.

Bananas look downright unappealing when they’re brown and spotty on the outside, but did you know that’s actually when they’re at the best for a few recipes?

I had a very unattractive banana lying around and decided to put it to good use.

Not looking so good, banana. Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

1. Meet banana fritters.

I made these myself. And they were delicious. Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

2. And banana bread is another great way to get rid of your spotted bananas!

3. Do you have overripe peaches, strawberries, or really any fruit you find irresistible? Turn it into jam! It’s surprisingly easy.

These jars of home-canned peaches look SO good. Image via Rachel Tayse/Flickr.

4. Love breakfast foods? Your bruised fruit can play a role there, too. Those fruit-filled pancakes aren’t just for a fancy brunch. Smash your overripe fruit in a bowl, and make your own pancakes at home.

*Drooling.* Image via Matheus Swanson/Flickr.

5. And how about popsicles? Did you know you could make those with overripe fruit? Your bruised peaches never looked so good.

And then there’s stale bread — it still has its uses!

6. Confession: I’m not much of a bread eater. Too often, I’d buy a loaf of gluten-free bread, forget about it, and toss it. But now I know that dried out bread can be transformed and used for something I really do like: breading things! Fried catfish is going to be perfect from now on.

I'm absurdly proud of these bread crumbs! Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

7. And if you eat a lot of salads, spice them up with homemade croutons.

Croutons have never looked so good. Image via Tasha/Flickr.

A lot of us have fallen victim to wasting parts of a whole rotisserie chicken. But not anymore.

After that first meal, there’s often so much chicken left that next steps can be confusing. Do you eat the same meal for a few days or toss the leftovers? Do neither! There are tons of ways to reuse leftover chicken.

8. Tacos

A Taco Tuesday staple. Image via Larry Hoffman/Flickr.

9. Chicken salad

Image via Lara604/Flickr.

10. BBQ it! Yes, you can take the same chicken, slather some BBQ sauce all over it, and voilà! A new meal. You can eat it as-is or shred it and make a sandwich. The world is yours.

Mouth-watering leftovers. Image via jeffreyw/Flickr.

11. As we head into winter, you can't go wrong with some comforting chicken soup.

Perfect for a chilly day. Or any day, really. Image via Carol VanHook/Flickr.

12. And as a new West Coast resident, I can vouch for chicken quesadillas. Shred or chop up your leftovers and make them part of this meal. You won’t regret it.

Image via Andy Melton/Flickr.

And — this is mind-blowing — you can revive some of that produce you wrote off as goners. Yes, you read that right.

13. Carrots?

14. Lettuce?  

15. Parsley?

As certain vegetables wilt and start to lose their texture, they can be revived with some good ol’ water. Seriously. This is like a magic trick that we can all pull off.

So, you get it: Food waste sucks, but there are (delicious) ways to contribute to the solution.

Try some of these tips at home, and post your own tips! You never know which one of your tips can save someone else a ton of time and money while helping us all to treat this planet a little bit better.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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