City wasting less food, but work remains

City wasting less food, but work remains

Day by Day

By LIZ THOMPSON

January 4, 2020

This Week News

The holidays are over, and in many cases, our stomachs show the evidence of their feasts and bountiful sweets.

But buffets with mounds of food always have squelched my appetite. It might be the huge selection, the mixture of food aromas or that I was taught to eat all the food on my plate at a meal.

I also know many people go without even a portion of that bounty.

Although the United States is considered a land of plenty, many live with food insecurity. We all should ponder how we manage the food we buy.

As my husband, Bob, and I gradually moved from a household of five down to two, we continued to cook for five. Our freezer often was full of leftovers. But I confess to throwing food away in the past.

Over the past 25 years, we learned to cook for two. We subscribed to Cooking for Two magazine from Taste of Home. I found allrecipes.com, where you can choose the number of people you want the recipe to serve, and it adjusts the measurements.

Ty Marsh, executive director of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, said in Franklin County alone, nearly a million pounds of food waste enters the landfill every day.

Dr. Allan Lines, Ohio State University professor emeritus and a Worthington resident, taught courses in farm management, farm finance and agribusiness finance. He remains active as an agricultural consultant in Ohio, the U.S. and in international agriculture.

“There is a lot of food wasted here and in the rest of the developed world,” Lines said.

He said he was shocked in 2018 when he took a group of visiting professors from Ukraine to a food-distribution company in central Ohio.

“The managers of the warehouse told us that of every 100 semitruck trailers coming into the distribution center with fresh food, four truckloads were separated as ‘unusable’ and sent on to the landfill,” he said.

“This was largely because of spoilage or conditions, such as blemishes, poor coloring, unripe, overripe and misshapen or other attributes the consumer is unwilling to purchase,” Lines said. “So it is not just the waste at home. We have a long way to go to train families, young and old, that fresh foods don’t need to be perfect to be edible and nutritious.”

We each can take measures to become better at managing our resources.

Bob and I have a small compost bin in our yard that we fill with food scraps. This becomes soil rich with nutrients for our garden. SWACO recommends shopping with a list — I have heard never to shop hungry — as well as freezing leftovers or feeding them to your dog (if they’re safe for animals).

Our dog has refused only a few foods, but check with your veterinarian for recommendations. Like people, all dogs are different.

I was encouraged to learn that a year ago, SWACO launched the Central Ohio Food Waste Initiative, a group of more than 60 organizations working together to reduce food waste. The initiative is concentrating on three areas: food-waste prevention, food rescue (getting extra food to those in need) and food recycling.

This group will release the results of a feasibility study and kick off a consumer-education campaign this year, including a food-waste-reduction program in schools.

SWACO grants support residential compost options across the region. The cities of Bexley, Worthington and Upper Arlington have instituted the pilot program.

In November, SWACO released new numbers that show central Ohio has surpassed a 50% diversion rate. This means residents and businesses are keeping more than half of the waste they create out of the landfill by recycling, composting and reusing materials.

When you see that not-so-perfect piece of fruit dangling from a tree or in the produce department, give it a try. Think of ways to be wise with the food available to us.

Make our only footprint in that compost-rich soil of our garden, with a lifestyle of guarding our land’s resources.

Check out swaco.org and look for places to dispose of products. To learn about the initiative, go to cofwi.com.