Prune that Fruit Cake! Tips to reducing your food-print this holiday


After sampling 13 different cookies at a cookie swap yesterday, I’m gearing up for sweet potato latkes tonight, a Christmas Eve Crabfest, and homemade-Kahlua White Russians to ring in the new year.  While my stomach is bursting out of both excitement and fear, my conscience knows how much of those feasts won’t get eaten.

Wasting food is particularly ironic during this holiday season, when the food banks are as overflowing with volunteers as garbage cans are with food.  According to the same logic of a previous blog, 97 million pounds of edible turkey meat will be thrown away this Christmas.  This translates to $132 million, 45 billion gallons of water, and 480,000 tons of CO2 going to absolutely nothing.  That’s only part of the staggering resources dedicated to food that never gets eaten during this holiday season.

The good news is we can reverse this costly trend. 

Get started with six easy tips to help you save both money and resources.  The full list of ideas can be found in NRDC’s new food waste fact sheet.

  1. Shop Wisely – Plan meals, use shopping lists, buy from bulk bins, and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items.  Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.
  2. Learn When Food Goes Bad“Sell-by” and “use-by” dates are not federally regulated and are not safety dates, except on certain baby foods.  Most foods can be safely consumed well after their use-by dates.   
  3. Love Your Freezer; Mine Your Fridge – Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.  Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you won’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad.  Check out the Love Food Hate Waste site for creative ways to use up the last of that yogurt sitting in the fridge. 
  4. Eat Leftovers – Did you know that only about half of Americans take leftovers home from restaurants?  Pack it up and eat it later. There’s a reason people write poetry about cold pizza for breakfast 
  5. Buy Funny Fruit—Many fruits and vegetables are thrown out by stores or distributors because their size, shape, or color are not "right". Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer's market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste and sends the message that we care about taste, not looks.
  6. Request Smaller Portions – Restaurants will often provide half-portions at reduced prices. You just have to ask!

Awareness is the first step to reducing your food-print.  Check out our food waste fact sheet for the full scoop and let us know what exciting ways you’ve found to save food and money.