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within a few days. Because we tend to overbuy when we’re hungry, don’t walk the aisles with a growling stomach. Organize the refrigerator. Place leftovers at eye level in the fridge, so they are front-and-center anytime someone opens it. When stowing groceries, slide older items to the front. Pay attention to use-by dates and un- derstand that food is good for several days beyond a sell-by date. Freeze foods. Many food items will last for months in the freezer in appro- priate storage bags and containers. Share surplus food. For larger dishes such as casseroles and crockpot meals, invite a friend over for supper, deliver a plate to an elderly neighbor or pack leftovers to share with co- workers. Donate extra nonperishable or unspoiled food items to a local soup kitchen, food bank or pantry or home- less shelter. Store food properly. To maximize food’s edible life, set the fridge between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange containers so that air circu-

lates around items; the coldest areas are near the back and bottom of the unit. For fruits and vegetables stored in plastic bags or designated bins or containers, squeeze out air and close tightly to reduce the damaging effects of exposure to oxygen. Buy ugly fruits and veggies. Grocery stores and markets throw out a substantial volume of vegetables and fruits because their size, shape or color is deemed less than ideal. Purchase produce with cosmetic blemishes to save perfectly good, overlooked food from being discarded as waste. Use soft fruits and wilted vegeta-

bles. Soft, overripe fruits can be con- verted to jellies, jams, pies, cobblers, milkshakes and smoothies. Wilted carrots, limp celery, soft tomatoes and droopy broccoli can be chopped up and blended into soups, stews, juices and vegetable stocks.

Dish up smaller portions. Smaller portions are healthier and allow left- overs for another meal. Take home a doggie bag. Only

about half of restaurant diners take leftovers home. Ask to have unfinished food boxed in a recyclable container, and then enjoy it for lunch or dinner within two days. Compost routinely. If, despite daily best efforts, food waste still occurs, recycle it with meal prepa- ration scraps into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Create an outdoor compost heap, or compost cooked and uncooked meats, food scraps and small bones quickly and without odor in an indoor bokashi bin. “Earth Day—April 22nd—serves as a reminder that each of us must exercise personal responsibility to think globally and act locally as environmen- tal stewards of Earth,” says Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Net- work. “Reducing food waste is another way of being part of the solution.”

Amber Lanier Nagle is a freelance writer specializing in how-to articles pertaining to Southern culture, healthy living and the environment.


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