Today, Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day and it made me realize how fortunate I am to work for Second Helpings, one of the “greenest” organizations in the Lowcountry. Our volunteers are not your average helpers; they are mighty Food Waste Warriors. They collect over 2.8 million pound of surplus food annually.
So, what kinds of food do they liberate and repurpose? Is it bad, spoiled, or stale? Not at all. It’s meat, dairy products, produce, bread and grocery items that are excess stock or have hit their “sell by date”. I think the phrase “sell by date” is the biggest misnomer in America. The terms “sell by”, “use by” or “best before” are just guidelines. Most food will stay good for days, even weeks after the date on the package (infant formula may be the only exception). If the food looks normal, smells good and tastes okay, then it’s should be fine.
The sad reality is that 40 percent of food produced in the United States today goes uneaten. This means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, and the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills. The average American family throws away $1,500 worth of food per year!
So in honor of Earth Day, I challenge you all to be Food Waste Warriors. Take a few minutes and think of ways you can reduce the amount of food you throw away. Below are some great sites that can help you with your food rescue resolution. Your efforts will help you, your community, your country and your earth.