Food waste is a major problem in the United States, and it is estimated that about a quarter of the food we buy is thrown away. That amounts to $1,350 to $2,275 worth of food per household year. Increasing food shopping and cooking habits, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, have increased food waste. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to cut down on food waste by understanding key storage ideas.
Food safety is a serious issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are over 48 million occurrences of foodborne disease each year, which translates to 1 in 6 Americans becoming ill. And each year, it is predicted that these ailments cause 128,000 hospital admissions as well as 3,000 fatalities.
Food waste seriously threatens our ecology, natural resources, and financial stability.
What is Food?
Food is a material mostly made up of nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat and is used by organisms to fuel their growth and important operations. Digestion makes it easier for the body to absorb and use the food it consumes, which is essential for nutrition. The main food source plants since they use photosynthesis to turn solar energy into food. Creatures that consume plants frequently provide food for other animals.
How to Store Food Safely and Prevent Food Waste?
Now that we know that improper food storage causes food to spoil more quickly, it’s time to consider some real-world examples. For instance, freezer burn occurs when oxygen molecules creep in and cause water molecules from your frozen food to escape. Your frozen product’s flavor and color may be altered by oxygen molecules. Food burned in the freezer is still safe, but because many people don’t like the texture and flavor, it usually ends up in the trash. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to store frozen food to keep it fresher for longer:
Storage bags with seals. You can extend the food’s shelf life and lower the chance of cross-contamination by simply keeping your vegetables in specially prepared plastic bags.
Check for bags with sturdy zippers or seals, and ensure the bag shuts securely without being too challenging to access.
Storage Bags with a Vacuum Seal
Foods like red meat, chicken, fish, and cheese can be efficiently preserved and stored with these airtight bags. No matter where you store your goods, the bags’ oxygen and moisture barriers help them stay fresher for longer.
Food Containers for Storage
Food is kept in different-sized plastic or glass containers for storage and, occasionally, reheating. These not only help your food last longer, but they also make it simpler to organize and utilize space efficiently.
Small ventilation holes in the back of Grundig refrigerators equipped with FullFresh technology, for instance, ensure that the air in the crisper drawer is kept cool, fresh, and high in humidity. To keep fruit and vegetables from going bad, the top of the drawer has a series of tiny openings that maximize airflow and reduce moisture. Your fruit and veggies will therefore remain fresh for up to 30 days.
What is the Best Advice for Correcting Storage Mistakes?
Effective food storage can be a little bit of an art. It’s simple to make mistakes with food storage that result in unnecessary food waste and other food safety dangers.
Consider the following advice to lower leaks, cross-contamination, freezer burn, and expedited spoilage:
Packaging Food Safely
Salads, cakes, and other foods that are ready to consume should be kept at the top of your refrigerator.
Then arrange the products in the following sequence, from top to bottom: raw poultry, raw red meat, raw ground beef, raw fish, and raw produce. Adopting this separation method decreases the possibility of unintentional spills or leaks resulting in contamination.
Understand your Temperature
It should go without saying that various foods require different temperatures for optimal storage. If you don’t know what temperature to store your food at, it will spoil quickly and become unsafe to eat. In the refrigerator, perishable goods should be maintained at or below 5°C, and in the freezer, below -20°C.
Keeping your food in the same circumstances as when you bought it is crucial. If you purchased it chilled, put it in the fridge when you get home.
Tidy Storage Spaces
All facilities that hold food, including pantries, refrigerators, and freezers, need to be cleaned frequently. For the refrigerator, it is advised to perform a daily once-over and a deep clean every week, while dry storage rooms can be cleaned once a month. While cleaning, don’t forget to transfer your food to the same temperature zone. For perishable foods, using a cooler box works nicely. If at all possible, try to avoid often defrosting your freezer because moisture might promote microbial growth.
Why is it Important to Preserve Food?
Whether you intend to use the food at home, prepare it in a professional kitchen, or sell it straight to customers, food preservation describes the procedures you employ to prepare the food for secure, long-term storage. By preventing bacterial growth and other food degradation, preservation techniques make food safe and gratifying to consume in the future.
Three factors make food preservation crucial:
- Food stored for a long time runs the risk of going bad from bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and other infections. To quickly multiply in food, bacteria need temperature, moisture, and time; however, food preservation blocks one or more of these factors and halts their growth. Since food deteriorates over time due to spoiling, it must be kept at its highest quality. While moderate spoilage frequently does not render food unsafe to consume, it substantially impacts the food’s flavor, texture, and appearance. The nutritional value of some foods can also be retained with the help of proper food preservation.
- To reduce waste, which is expensive at home and in a business setting. While it’s best to refrain from purchasing more food than you can use, several safe preservation techniques can help you keep produce like fruits, meat, and vegetables well past their regular expiration date.
- While some food preservation techniques can be challenging, you’ll probably feel genuine pride and satisfaction when you use them effectively. You’ll also sharpen your awareness of the risks and best practices associated with poor food hygiene, as many preservation techniques necessitate accuracy and care to preserve food safety.
Reference: Food Management Practices Used by People with Limited Resources to Maintain Food Sufficiency as Reported by Nutrition Educators
There is still more to learn about the methods people with limited means employ to manage their food supply. 51 nutrition educators from the New Jersey Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program participated in semi-structured interviews to learn more about the dietary habits of program participants. The use of well-known tactics, like bingeing when food is available and changing monthly eating habits, was validated. New techniques were found. Among the practices that put food safety or nutritional issues at risk were eating other people’s leftovers and removing slime, mold, and insects from meals.
Which Kind of Container Must be Used While Storing Food?
Glass is More Environmentally Friendly
Glass trumps plastic in terms of its ability to reduce environmental effects due to its strength, lifespan, and recycling potential. Glass can outlast plastic in the kitchen if it is maintained properly. Glass continues to be a reliable and long-lasting option for food storage while plastic is more prone to melting or discoloration.
Glass is also 100% recyclable, and as long as it is disposed of correctly, you can recycle glass at a designated facility. Unfortunately, many recycling facilities only offer recycling to a few types of plastic due to the huge variety of readily available plastic products. Anything that cannot be recycled is thrown into a landfill, where it stays for a very long time.
Glass is, therefore, the most environmentally friendly material.
Glass Offers a More Wholesome Substitute
Glass is a better material for the kitchen in terms of safety and health benefits. But regrettably, even BPA-free plastics can release hazardous compounds when heated. This risks your health when washing, microwaving, and heating plastic containers. Placing plastic containers in the dishwasher can be difficult because they are prone to warping and melting.
Fortunately, glass can withstand heat and can be cooked in the oven, microwave, or dishwasher. Glass products do not absorb or release any hazardous substances or microscopic particles when used since they are non-porous.
What will Happen if We do not Reduce Food Waste?
Fuel Waste Follows Food Waste
We utilize oil, diesel, and fossil fuels to cultivate, transport, store, and prepare food. For example, the machinery that sorts, cleans, packages, or prepares food consumes a significant amount of fuel, as does the machinery that transports food from the farm to the warehouse. Oil, diesel, and other fuels are required by a lot of this equipment. Additionally, landfills are always located outside of cities. As a result, it is delivered over long distances using fuel or diesel-powered vehicles like garbage trucks. When these fuels are used, damaging greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. Food waste significantly negatively influences our environment since it wastes fuel or oil both upfront and at the rear end.
Land Waste Equals Food Waste
Regarding food waste, there are two forms of land waste. The utilization of land for both food production and food waste disposal. Arable and non-arable land are the two types. Crops can be cultivated on arable land, preferable to non-arable ground for growing crops. These uncultivated plains are ideal for raising livestock. The world’s livestock grazes on almost 900 million hectares of non-arable land to produce meat. The area of land used for agriculture globally is around 11.5 billion hectares. There is no issue with the land utilized to raise cattle or crops. Wasted food is the real issue. We never fully realize what we waste when we throw away food.
Fermenting is an age-old food preservation method that uses fermentation to preserve food. It can extend the shelf life of many products, such as cheese, meats, and vegetables. Fermentation is a process that uses lactic acid bacteria to eat sugars and carbohydrates in food.
This process produces acid and flavor compounds that make foods more delicious. The key to successful fermentation is creating the right environment. The correct temperature, amount of nutrients, and absence of oxygen are all necessary conditions for the process. Beginners should choose recipes that have been tested and scientifically validated.