Americans throw out 14 percent of the food they buy -- and that's before factoring in the leftover food you scrape from your plate. Mint Life offers the following tips for extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables:
Store them on the counter for seven days. Don't keep them near other uncovered fruits or vegetables -- the ethylene gases produced by apples can ruin them.
Store them upright in the refrigerator in a plastic bag in an inch of water, or with a damp towel wrapped around the base.
Refrigerate berries, unwashed and in their original container.
Refrigerate them stem side down in a sealed plastic bag.
Keep it in the front of the refrigerator, where it's less apt to freeze.
Store it in the pantry, or any location away from heat and light. It'll last up to four months.
Let them ripen on the counter in a paper bag punched with holes, away from sunlight.
- Summer squash
Refrigerate it in a perforated plastic bag.
Spread them out on the counter out of direct sunlight for even ripening.
For the complete list, please see the Source link below.
According to a study published last year in the journal PloS One, Americans waste an estimated 1,400 calories of food per person, each and every day. These wasted calories represent not only 39 percent of the available US food supply, but also accounts for approximately 300 million barrels of oil annually, with all of the environmental implications that go along with fossil fuel consumption.
Wasted food equals wasted resources of all kinds, including the hard-earned money you spend on groceries that never actually reach your plate.
Fortunately, the answer to all this waste is rather simple, requiring only small shifts in the way you plan your meals and store your food.
Store Your Food Correctly to Maximize Its Shelf Life
A lot of people have become so far removed from natural foods that they will eye every minor imperfection with suspicion. But these surface imperfections, like small "bruises" on fruits for example, or a minute speck of mold on a piece of cheese, or a bit of wilting, is not what will make you sick. They can be cut off and the food will still be fine to eat.
The danger of spoiled food comes from bacteria you can't see, smell or taste. The vast majority of the food recalls in recent years have actually been processed foods and pre-packaged produce. Due to preservatives and packaging methods used, these foods may have looked pristine, but were still contaminated with disease-causing bacteria.
That said, if you know how to store your produce, you can make your food stay crisp and fresh longer, without adding unsavory chemicals to your diet.
First, you'll want to make sure your fridge is kept cold enough -- below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4 degrees Celsius. This will ensure food safety. Also leave enough space in your fridge for cold air to circulate. If your refrigerator is too tightly packed, your food will spoil faster.
Next, you'll want to properly store each individual food. The Mint Life article above offers instructions for storing a long list of produce.
To best preserve beets, for example, you would remove the green tops and refrigerate the beets and the greens in separate plastic bags, while corn should be refrigerated while still in the husk to stay fresh the longest.
Citrus fruits, on the other hand, can last up to two weeks right on the counter, while garlic and onions need to be stored in a dark, cool pantry, where they will stay fresh for up to four months.
Herbs can be notoriously tricky to keep from wilting, but if you keep them in an air-tight container wrapped in a moistened paper towel, they'll maintain their freshness for up to ten days in your fridge. The life of leafy greens can also be extended by as much as three extra days if you don't wash them before putting them in your fridge.
Also keep in mind that apples, pears, and bananas release natural ripening agents that will hasten the demise of any other produce placed in their vicinity. For guidelines for even more foods, please see the source article.
You Simply MUST Do This With Your Produce
Oxygen, in most cases, is not food's friend as it accelerates food decay. A simple way you can protect most of your produce from the damaging effects of oxygen in the air is to make sure you "vacuum pack" your produce.
You can easily do this using the bag at the grocery produce section to store your vegetables, and then put the bag against your chest and use your arm to squeeze the produce against your chest and force all the air out of the bag. Once the air is removed you can seal it with a twist tie and thus minimize exposure to oxygen.
This simple technique can easily double or triple the normal shelf life of your vegetables by keeping oxygen away from them.
Failing to Plan Means You are Planning to Fail
Planning your meals is important for a number of reasons, one of which is reducing the amount of food that will go to waste; since you'll only buy what you need each time you hit the store.
It will also go a long way to help you raise the nutritional content of your meals, as lack of planning combined with time constraints tend to be the number one reason for poor eating habits.
I recommend buying your food locally, preferably from a small organic farming operation you can visit and inspect for yourself. Not only will this guarantee you the freshest foods, giving you a few extra days of leeway before they spoil, this practice is also the most environmentally friendly, leaving the tiniest carbon footprint.
Also keep in mind that eating fresh, raw foods – selected to suit your nutritional type --is THE way to be optimally healthy.
This is such an important step, and now it's easier and less expensive than ever. In fact, I'm now offering the entire nutritional typing test for free!
The solution to waste is NOT to load up on more processed or canned foods simply because you can store them until the end of time. Their extreme shelf life comes at a high price as they are loaded with chemical preservatives. And, as if that's not enough of a health hazard, many processed foods are packaged in boxes and cans that leach additional toxins into your food.
Processed "convenience foods" really don't save you much time either. In one study, the difference between meals involving more than 50 percent convenience foods, compared to limited use of such items, was negligible. Meals still took an average of 52 minutes to prepare. The only difference seen was the amount of time spent on hands-on preparation, where the use of convenience foods saved an average of 10 to 12 minutes.
However, if you want to save money, steer clear of those precut, ready-to-use foods, as they can cost twice as much as the uncut and unprepared versions.
Remember, the fresher your foods are to start with, the longer they'll be safe to eat, so choose small amounts of the freshest foods you can find and eat them as soon as possible.
Vegetables, in particular, begin to lose their nutritional value shortly after harvesting. If you have to choose between frozen or canned vegetables, frozen is better, but still cannot compare to fresh.
To use up foods that are at the height of freshness, you can also cook in large quantities, and store the surplus in glass containers in your fridge or freezer. This is perhaps the easiest way to ensure you have a healthy lunch each day.
To balance out the extra time spent cooking, you can eat many foods raw while you're on the go. Ideally, at least one third of your food should be eaten raw, such as vegetables, seeds, nuts, dairy, and organic eggs.
Vegetable juicing is also an excellent way to get more raw food into your diet, but it will need to be made fresh each day.
Last but not least, meal planning should also include planning what to do with the leftovers. A wonderful British web site called Love Food Hate Waste has tons of suggestions and helpful tips for reducing your waste, including "leftover recipes."
Waste Not, Want Not…
Taking steps in your own life to eliminate food waste makes you part of the solution and not the problem. And, if you act on the dietary suggestions above, you'll also improve your health.
Once you become accustomed to planning your meals and eating the best-quality foods for your nutritional type, I'm certain you'll never look back. I can guarantee you'll start experiencing increased energy, weight normalization, and other health benefits that will make any time spent in your kitchen well worth it.
If you have tips, tricks, and ideas of your own for reducing food waste, please share it with the rest of the community by logging into Vital Votes, and adding your comments below.