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Reducing Food Waste Saves Money, Says Nwadike
Missouri Ag Connection - 05/21/2020

In normal times, it benefits consumers and the environment to not waste food.

But Londa Nwadike knows it's even more important now, when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in the food supply chain.

"In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service estimated that 30% to 40% of edible food in the United States went to waste," said Nwadike, a food safety specialist with K-State Research and Extension. "And, at the household level, the average U.S. family of four loses an estimated $1500 per year on wasted food."

Nwadike, who is located in Olathe, Kan. and has a joint appointment with the University of Missouri, has worked with staff at both universities to publish a fact sheet to help consumers cut the waste and save money at home.

'Working Together to Reduce Food Waste' is available for free from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore.

Nwadike said the publication outlines a few strategies for reducing waste, including things consumers can do at home; donating to food banks; and building a compost pile.

She said consumers should try to reduce the volume of surplus food they have in the home to start. Some of the strategies for doing that include:

- Shop your refrigerator first. Before buying more food, eat perishable food in the refrigerator, or incorporate it into meal planning.

- Strategic grocery shopping. Once you plan meals, make a shopping list -- and stick to it. Avoid impulse buying.

- Store food properly. Maintain your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or less, and freezer at 0 degrees. Store food in packaging that is designed for storage in the freezer, refrigerator or possibly at room temperature.

- Extend the life of food. Frozen food can be safe for extended periods of time; follow recommended storage times. Canning properly is another way to extend food life.

- Understand and check food product dates. A "Sell by" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. "Best by" or "use by" dates are the food manufacturer's recommendation for best flavor and quality.

For more tips on how to reduce food waste in the home, visit the K-State Research and Extension food safety website.

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