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Tips to reduce food waste

We spend a lot of time touting the endless health benefits of fruits and vegetables – they contribute to gut health, beautiful skin, immunity, weight maintenance and so on.  And they’re the one thing that 99% of us need to eat more of.  So after you’ve done your part to stock your kitchen with fresh fruits and veggies, here are a few tricks to keep them moving to your plate – instead of to the garbage disposal

First, keep your fruits and vegetables separate.  Natural ethylene gasses from fruit can spoil vegetables quickly.  Assign one drawer in your fridge for high ethylene fruits such as apples, ripe avocadoes, peaches and grapes.  Vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers and herbs tend to be sensitive to ethylene so keep them in a separate drawer to keep them crisp. 

Outside of the fridge produce such as onions, potatoes and winter squash (like butternut), should be stored at room temperature in a dry place.  These are items that you can buy in bulk and have on hand for when the time comes!  Here’s a tip for reducing food waste when a recipe only calls for half an onion, or if you only need a slice or two for a burger.  With white or Spanish onions, instead of tossing it, chop the rest and store refrigerated in an air tight container to add to omelets, sauces and soups.  Leftover red onion can be thinly sliced and sprinkled with apple cider vinegar for a few minutes for a quick pickle.  They’ll have less bite and add a nice tang to salads or sandwiches. 

Bananas, as we all know, are in a league of their own and should be reserved for the countertop fruit bowl, out of direct sunlight.  They will ripen quickly if they are kept too warm.  Caution: fruit such as apples, tomatoes or pineapples will continue to sweeten if kept nearby – which may be a good or bad thing!   

Leafy greens can be washed and spun dry and stored in a plastic food grade bag for easy access.  If you need an even simpler option, Dole greens are thoroughly washed before packaging, which means a snappy lunch is only a bag away!  Leftovers?  Before snapping the lid closed on your Tupperware, layer undressed salads or spinach (dressing is just asking for a soggy mess) with 1-2 paper towels to soak up excess moisture.  A large salad should last you a whole week! 

Herbs such as parsley, dill or basil can be displayed in a vase of water and kept on your counter for easy picking.  If it’s too warm for them, perk them up with a couple of ice cubes or cover with a plastic bag and place in the fridge.  If you can’t find enough uses for them throughout the week, chop and add to your salad to make your own herb blend!

The bottom line is you want to eat them as soon as you can after they’ve been purchased to maximize nutrition and flavor.

Published April 1, 2019

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