By Urban Green Lab
Sustainable Living Basics
At Urban Green Lab, a nonprofit based in Nashville, Tennessee, we teach communities how to live sustainable, healthy lives. That means making sure all of us know the basics of sustainable living, with a focus on how to reduce waste, from energy waste and water waste, to food waste—an issue everyone can relate to that connects us all. In this issue of Local Table we asked the Nashville Food Waste Initiative to give us some helpful tips on how to reduce food waste in our homes. Date Labels and Food Waste
Up to 40 percent of the food in the United States goes uneaten. When we waste that food, we waste all the water, energy, labor and other resources that go into growing, storing and transporting it. Most Americans donâ€TMt realize how much food they toss out each year—an average of 1,000 pounds per family of four, resulting in $1,500 lost. For the most part, food date labels have little to do with safety and are only loosely related to quality. Many foods will still be good to eat well after those dates. Hereâ€TMs how to sort out just what those food date labels mean: BEST IF USED BY/BEST BEFORE
These dates refer to peak quality or freshness. They do not mean the food is spoiled or unsafe. Food with these dates should be safe to eat after the date has passed. SELL BY
Ignore these dates as they are meant for store staff. They actually build in quality so that, if the food is sold by that date, you will have top-quality shelf life once itâ€TMs home. FREEZE BY
One way to extend the life of food beyond its date is to freeze it. Itâ€TMs like pushing the pause button on your food. BEWARE THE DANGER ZONE
The main criterion for evaluating food safety is the amount of time food spends in the temperature “danger zone” (40–120˚ F). Food left in a hot car for too long could be unsafe even before the date on the package. Also, be sure your fridge is kept below 40˚ F. USE YOUR EYES AND NOSE
For the most part, you can trust your senses to know when food has gone bad. The products to be careful with are those that pregnant women are told to avoid. For more tips, visit SaveTheFood.com.
About the Nashville Food Waste Initiative: The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—a leading national environmental organization of scientists, lawyers, economists and other experts – is at the forefront of efforts to address the nationâ€TMs food waste challenge. In 2015, NRDC selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing high-impact local policies and on-the-ground actions to address food waste. The Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI) is developing strategies and practical tools to serve as models for cities around the country. Did You Know?
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville is one of many businesses leading the way in food waste reduction. The Hall of Fame reached its goal to eliminate food waste through composting and food donation, diverting some 90,700 pounds of waste from middle Tennesseeâ€TMs landfills. Recycling efforts increased from 15 percent in 2016 to 26 percent in 2017, a difference of nearly 50,000 pounds. Throughout the museum, trash stations are divided into four bins for trash, recycling, compost and glass so everyone can make conscious decisions about where their waste goes. Learn more and get involved at www.urbangreenlab.org .