It is projected that by the end of the century there will be close to 9 billion mouths to feed. Our Mother Earth will need to produce an astonishing amount of food to keep up with this demand. Unfortunately, there is also a growing concern for food waste.
According to The Research Program on Climate Change, there are almost a billion people going hungry in the world today, yet we are wasting ⅓ of all of the food we produce. That math just doesn’t add up! To make matters worse, the problem of food waste is tied directly to obesity because most of the foods that go to waste are fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Poorly informed consumers generally do not have easy and affordable access to these fresh items so they eat more processed foods, exacerbating our existing obesity problem and under-nourishing their bodies in the process.
We are constantly pushing the earth and its natural resources to the limit by demanding so much food to feed the billions of people currently living in it. This is why we must all play a small role to improve the situation by changing daily habits. We gathered some easy food storage tips to help you keep food fresher and safe from spoilage for a longer amount of time.
Dry Goods: Store in a sealed bag or container, away from heat, light, and humidity.
- Baking Ingredients — 18 months
- Rice — 2 years
- Pasta — 2 years
- Cereal — 6 months
Raw Meats: Stored in the refrigerator; raw proteins can be frozen within 2 days of purchase
- Ground Meat — 2 days
- Steaks/Roasts — 5 days
- Shellfish — 2 days
- Poultry - days
- Fish — 2 days
Produce: Freezing some fruits after their refrigeration period can be a great way to preserve nutrients
- Root Vegetables — 2 weeks
- Leafy Greens — 1 week
- Apples — 1 month
- Melons/Pineapples cut — 3 days
Home cooked meals can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months if placed in a tightly sealed container.
Food waste is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues concerning the environment and the sustainability of our food systems. The use of chemicals, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers has been subject to great debate recently because they pose a danger of pollution to waterways, our food supply, and even pollinators such as bees. The increasingly common use of chemicals in our crops has lead to the sprouting of many grass-roots movements around the country who are fighting for healthier and more natural foods. These are led by community leaders and chefs like those who own and operate local WT Cafés and often teach younger generations how to grow and eat their own foods.
The growing disconnect between the food we eat and its origins is worrisome. A recent Australian poll surveying the 6th graders of an elementary school uncovered that 27% of those kids believe yogurt comes from trees!
Many students lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables because they live in a food desert where cheap, processed foodstuff has taken the place of fresh and healthy options. This is why Ferncreek Elementary, an Orlando, Florida school, praises the benefits of having a school garden. We recently spoke to program director, Patrick, who said of the garden, “The children can see that even though they live in a food desert, they can still learn to grow their own food”. The kids who participate in this program set up the garden beds, and also learn to use natural fertilizers and natural pest control methods. They get to harvest the vegetables and even cook them with the instruction of a chef who comes in to teach them ways to incorporate them into their daily meals.
Many other schools across the nation have created partnerships with organizations that are helping tie in garden education into the curriculum. The Edible School Yard Project is a very popular program that was created by the owner of the acclaimed “Chez Pannisse” restaurant in Berkeley, California. Alice Waters created this organization to teach school children about the origin of our food and to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables by learning how to cook them. Simultaneously, programs such as these help create an understanding about healthy eating and the role that a the interdependent relationship with our world and all the animals living within it plays in our overall health and well being. To see all of the schools that are currently participating in the Edible School Yard Project, check out their website at https://edibleschoolyard.org.
These programs are a testament to the fact that times are changing. With that change comes our desire to change the food landscape and our environment for the betterment of our communities and our health. We hope this Earth Day, you too can join the food revolution movement. Healthy school lunches are a great and necessary first step. WT Café is here to help you be a role model for your children on making those critical healthy choices early in life, and paving a lifetime of good health in their future!