Experts in Hillsborough County are hoping to help reduce food waste this Earth Day.
When food is thrown in the trash, it goes to land waste where it develops and releases methane gas.
"A lot of times when we think of food waste, it's the fruits and the vegetables. When you're planning your meal it's really important instead of thinking about what meat or protein you're going to have with your meal, think about what kind of vegetable, what kind of fruit you're going to have, and then base your meal on that," Brian Taylor, Registered Dietician, Hillsborough County Dept. of Aging Services said.
"Now if you find that you have a lot of leftovers, make sure you put them in the refrigerator within an hour of cooking and that way they'll stay fresh longer, and you could use them for the next day and get creative. You're the Bob Ross of your kitchen."
Taylor said a single person can waste anywhere from $400-1,600 of food a year.
"One thing I like to recommend is for the fruits and vegetables, you can go frozen, you can buy frozen mixed vegetables, frozen peas and carrots for $1.50, and you get a pretty big bag that you can use two or three times throughout the week and that way with the frozen vegetables, they're just as healthy just as nutritious, but you don't have to use them right away," Taylor said. "For the fresh fruits and vegetables, which we're always trying to get people to eat more of, use them first, put them in a part of your refrigerator where you're going to see them or where you know they are because if they're in the back of the refrigerator, chances are you're not going to remember to eat them or to use them."
"Even if some of these vegetables do go bad, and you don't have enough time to use them or to eat them, you could still use them in different ingredients. For example, carrots might get a little wilted, a little white, that's just meaning they're dehydrated, you could shave them, put them in a coleslaw, put them in a stir fry, put them in a soup. Or another trick is you can put them in an ice-water bath which is going to re-moisturize them along with celery and that might help extend the life of carrots, celery and other types of vegetables," explained Taylor.
Experts at the UF/IFAS Extension in Hillsborough County also recommend composting to help reduce the amount of food waste in our landfills.
Composting helps Florida soil retain more water.
"You can compost your apple cores, your banana peels, your potato peels. So anything that we're actually you know, throwing away this food waste, most of that can already be composted compost, you can compost your coffee grounds, and most of the paper coffee filters you can also compost," Lisa Meredith, Compost, School & Community Garden Program Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County said.
The county hosts two composting workshops a month. One is via Zoom and one in-person.
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