Go Green: 5 steps to reduce food waste

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JERICHO -

For today's Go Green segment, News 12 Long Island's Elizabeth Hashagen went grocery shopping! 

Most people don't realize how much food gets thrown away every day. From uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce, about 95 percent of food we throw away ends up in landfills. Once it's in a landfill, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, that the EPA says contributes to climate change. 

But there are ways to avoid the waste to help save money and the planet.

Step 1 - Plan your meals for the week, before you go shopping. 

Step 2 - Check your fridge, and your cabinets, to make sure you're not buying food you already have.

Step 3 - Make a list - that way you buy just what you need. And buying in bulk means you can just get a little, or a lot. 

Step 4 - Store it right. Many fruits give off a natural gas as they rippen but that can spoil other produce. For example, you want to remember to store bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves. When it comes to berries, wait to wash them until you're ready to eat them, that will prevent mold. 

Step 5 - Before you say goodbye to your food, make sure you know the difference between "use-by," "sell-by," and "best-by."

Here's an explanation about the labels from Bob Brackett, PhD, CFS, Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology and IFT member.

"Use-by:"
This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten; mostly because of quality, not because the item will necessarily make you sick if eaten after the use-by date. However after the use-by date, product quality is likely to go down much faster and safety could be lessened.

"Sell-by:"
This label is aimed at retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically one-third of a product's shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

"Best-by:"
This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

And a final tip! Use your phone and save a trip. There are free apps that you can use to plug in the information about the ingredients you already have in your house. That way you put the food you already have to good use. 

More Information:
Eco-Friendly Apps
EPA: Sustainable Management Food
NRDC: Food Waste
Whole Foods Market
Real Simple: How to Reduce Food Waste
Find Recipes For Ingredients You Already Have

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