Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
Whenever the special Earth day is commemorated, all of us think of ways on how to protect and preserve the environment. Some people plant trees, others wear brown or green clothes to show their participation. Apparently, there is one thing that we can all do even if it is not Earth day, to help preserve what is left of our only earth – recycle.
Recycling is reusing materials in their original or changed forms rather than discarding them as wastes. In reusing material or changing them into new materials rather than throwing it away, the environment as well as we, benefit from it.
Why Is Recycling Important? By Gloria Campos
Right inside our homes, we already produce a lot of waste. We simply throw away things, which, at initial thought, are not anymore useful. Some of these wastes need not be thrown away immediately in the trash bin. They may still have a degree of usefulness in them. We simply need to recycle them in order to make the most of these thought-to-be wastes. We find ways to recycle paper, plastic and every other kind of materials in the bin. However, there is something else that is more worthy to be recycled – food.
Among the wastes we produce at home (and worthy to be recycled) is food waste. If you will notice, food wastes continue to pile up in the waste bin on a daily basis. All over the world, the problem about food wastes is one of the major concerns. About 1.3 billion tons of edible foods produced around the world simply go to waste every year.
Indeed, a great amount of food is lost. During production, a certain percentage of produced foods are already wasted but a greater amount is merely wasted by the consumers. Consumers from industrialized countries even waste a greater amount of food compared to that of consumers from developing nations.
In the United States alone, there is more than 34 million tons of food wastes generated. The largest amount of it keep piling up in landfill areas.
Why Food Wastes Cause A Major Concern To Humans?
In order to produce foods, fresh water is needed to be used as well. To be precise, about 25% of fresh water used in food production ultimately goes to waste.
Over 1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world’s population.
In round numbers, there are 7 billion people in the world. Thus, with an estimated 925 million hungry people worldwide, 13.1 percent, or almost 1 in every 7 people are hungry.
It seems it is okay for most people to waste food and water when there are other people in other parts of the world desperate enough to drink from a dirty well just to relieve their parched throats. Earth resources, land in particular, are deforested and depleted just to produce foods. Barrels of oil by the millions are also spent on food production. You can just imagine just how much other resources are wasted when foods are also wasted. Fortunately, there are things that we can certainly do about this food waste issue.
“Attorney and Two Men” joke
An Attorney was riding home in his limo and noticed two men sitting on the side of the road eating grass. He told his driver to stop and investigate.
His driver went to the two men and asked, “Sirs, why are you eating grass?” The first man replied, “I have no money and must eat grass.” The driver reported this to the Attorney. The attorney would not hear of it and said to them, “Come to my house and I will feed you.” The man stated, “Sir I have a wife and three children” and then the second man spoke up and said, “I have a wife and six children.” The Attorney says it is ok bring them all, “There is enough for everyone.”
It takes about twenty minutes to get everyone and they are on their way to the Attorney’s house. Halfway there, the two men were totally overtaken and one of them said to the Attorney, “Sir, I do not know how to thank you and we are not able to repay you. Thank you for your kindness.” The Attorney says to them, “Do not worry about it, it is fine and there’s plenty for everyone. You will love my place. The grass is about two feet high.”
Possible Solutions To Food Waste
Our hands are tied when it comes to reducing wastes from food production processes but we can certainly do something about trimming down food wastes inside our homes. Meal planning is one possible course of action. When you go shopping for food supplies, first create a list of necessary items of your planned meals for an entire week. Buy only those items that you really need. Suppose you have bought fruits and vegetables that were not immediately consumed and have developed certain blemishes on the surface, do not be so quick to throw them away. If you have a yard or a garden, you can set up a compost pit for spoiled or leftover foods. Most helpful of all will be to reuse and recycle your leftover foods instead of throwing them in the bin.
In order to help keep your foods in good condition, make sure that you store them properly. Leftovers must be refrigerated so they will not get spoiled. Some leftover foods can be eaten straight from the fridge, while others can be recycled into a new and innovative meal. You may use online resources to find ways on how to recycle leftover foods. You will discover that there are a lot of recipes that you can follow to recreate dishes from remnants of your foods. Below are some useful tips you can do with leftover foods.
- Spaghetti leftovers. With spaghetti meals, the sauce is what usually depletes first, leaving a lot of leftover noodles. You can always prepare another batch of sauce but that would not be interesting to eat anymore. Instead, you can add some crushed garlic cloves, butter, salt and cheese to the leftover noodles to create a new, simple and delicious pasta meal. You can also add the noodles to make a simple chicken soup.
- Roast beef leftover. Roast beef is certainly a great dish that may also produce a lot of leftovers. You can always eat the dish as usual or you may shred the meat into tiny pieces, add some mayonnaise and pepper and spread this over slices of bread. You may garnish it with lettuce and tomatoes for a complete roast beef sandwich. The same method can be used for other leftover meats like chicken, pork and fish.
- Hard bread. When the bread slices or loaves have gone hard, but not stale, after a few days of not being consumed, you can cut the bread into small pieces and mix the bread pieces with cheese, garlic powder and olive oil. Toast this mixture in an oven for about 20-30 minutes to make home-made croutons. Croutons are healthy garnishes for soups and salads. Make sure you store the croutons in sealed jars to preserve its freshness.
- Rice leftover. Rice is one of the staple foods that produce a lot of leftovers. Sometimes, rice leftovers are just thrown away. If you live in the country where backyard pig pens are mostly found, you would not have a problem in reusing them as you can simply feed them to the pigs. If there is no pig sty nearby, then you can just toss your leftover rice with some crushed garlic, hotdog/ham or egg tidbits, green onion or leeks and some butter to create yummy fried rice. Leftover meats may also be added to your fried rice to make it extra delicious.
- Vegetable leftovers. After a gathering where hors d’oeuvres are served, there will certainly be several leftover veggies. Do not throw them away as you can still use them to prepare a vegetable soup. Add some leftover meat to the stockpot and you will have a really filling and flavorful soup.
Simply use your imagination and creativity around the kitchen and you will definitely come up with exciting and interesting new ways to use leftover foods. To make the most out of these leftovers, you need to know how to handle them well so that you can ensure you are still eating edible and safe foods. Below are some hints on how to store and manage leftovers:
- Cooked foods must be reheated at 165° F, or stored in the fridge or freezer within two hours after being cooked. If the weather is hot, cut down the two hours into one because foods tend to easily spoil when the temperature is hot.
- When storing foods in the freezer or refrigerator, make sure that you place them in shallow containers with tight lids or covers.
- Always remember to wash your hands using soap before you touch any cooked food.
- If the food already looks or smells bad, don’t attempt to even taste it or you will end up with an upset stomach.
- As a rule of thumb, leftovers must only be stored for four days. Beyond four days, the leftover is most likely not safe to eat anymore. We don’t want this to happen since our goal is to reduce food wastes. To avoid this, make sure you already use the leftovers within four days. If possible do not cook a new dish when there are still leftovers in the fridge that you can transform into a new dish. You also need to remember to always cook just the right amount of foods that you and your family can consume completely without producing any leftover.