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How To Reduce Food Waste This Thanksgiving

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Speaker 1: 00:00 Many of us are fortunate enough to have Thanksgiving dinners overflowing with main dishes, side dishes, snacks, desserts, all that food makes for a welcoming table. But it can also lead to a serious amount of food waste. And it's not just a problem at Thanksgiving. Food is the single largest item disposed of in landfills amounting to each person trashing an average of 20 pounds of food per month. Food waste is an environmental problem, a social problem considering how many people face food insecurity and an economic problem costing families an average of $1,500 a year. So how do we stop it? Joining me is Ian Monaghan with, I love a clean San Diego and Ian, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Maureen. People might say, what's the problem with food in landfills? It's not like plastic, it decomposes. So what is the problem? Well, one of the things, I mean considering you know, one in seven people here in San Diego County are facing food, food scarcity, you know the season food waste is, is like you said, not only an environmental problem but it's a social problem.

Speaker 1: 01:11 And the thing is, when food goes to the landfill, um, it basically produces methane, which is, uh, a very powerful greenhouse gas. And, um, aside from costing folks money, um, it's also bad for the environment. Well, we've been able to reduce the overall amount of waste we put in landfills but apparently not food. Why is that? Perhaps it's a matter of convenience. Before we came on here today, somebody sent me a world war era poster that basically spoke to what we're speaking about today. It's reducing, um, food waste. Um, it was a time of scarcity and people needed to buckle down and, and, and do the right thing, you know, but for, for us now, today we have so many options, um, for what we can consume. And in the season of getting creative around recipes and kicking off the holiday season, we can get just as creative in how we're going to reduce and divert food from the landfill.

Speaker 1: 02:11 One of the ways that your around an organization has gotten a creative is that you're, you've come out with some tips on reducing the amount of food waste that winds up in the landfill during the holiday season. What's number one on the list? A great resource that we did find online is the guest animator and, um, that is, uh, essentially a calculator that folks can use to go on a line in preparation for what they're going to plan for their meal and then basically see what amounts they're going to need for the various food types for the number of people who are coming to their get together so that you don't overbuy to begin with. And that's a cost savings for you and a savings for food waste as well. So it's not just how many pounds of Turkey should I buy for the, a number of gasps, but everything else, how many pounds of potatoes and so forth.

Speaker 1: 03:02 Yeah. I mean, the, the, the overfilling plate of, of Thanksgiving dinner is, you know, synonymous with a feast. And, uh, we've even found that doing sort of a buffet style Thanksgiving with smaller plates, people will come back for seconds if they want them, but not overload on food that they don't want from the or that they can't eat from the beginning. And you also say reducing meat dishes and increasing veggie dishes, uh, at our get togethers, it leads to less food waste. How does that work? Well, um, the UN had a, a very interesting report that came out in, in August and it covered a very broad range of things, but it found out that number one plant based diets are better for us. Um, number two, we can feed more people on plant-based and number three, plant-based dishes, reduce greenhouse gases. Um, now also, um, organic material can be composted and composting different from going into a landfill where it's an anaerobic process is an arrow but crosses so it doesn't produce methane.

Speaker 1: 04:07 So, um, you know, and it can be preserved. Um, just a longer in the refrigerator as well. Can you actually be more precise in the amount of produce and vegetables that you buy? Yes, I think, um, one of the great things about buying produce is you can buy it loose so you can buy almost exactly what you need when it comes to, um, cooking vegetable dishes. Um, rather than having to buy more than what you may need from, from the beginning. Now you've also got some recipes for leftovers. What can people do, for instance, with leftover mashed potatoes? Well, we've heard that you can make a Mashpee or mashed potato pizza. So, um, we also had a great tip about, um, roasting broccoli Spears. Sometimes that's the most undesirable portion of the, of the piece of broccoli. But roasting broccoli spear softens it up and makes it very delicious.

Speaker 1: 05:01 Um, at waste for we have posted, um, resources for not only preparing for your meal, but also planning for leftovers. One of my favorites was, uh, uh, leftover stuffing waffles. That's an interesting one. Leftovers. Well, leftovers are the best part I hear. So. Okay. So is there any way to dispose of the meat that is leftover in a better way than just sending it off to the landfill? I think, you know, going back to that world war reference that I made, um, and, and people are still doing this today obviously, but, um, you can make broths, um, and really use the most out of what you're purchasing before you even consider putting it in the trash. You know, we're going to produce some waste. The bottom line is, is one, we're preparing for everything. It's rethinking perhaps the way we approach our meal. And then just having in our mind, reducing from the get go. Um, what we're going to purchase, uh, to begin with. I've been speaking with Ian Monahan with, I love a clean San Diego. Thank you for your tips and happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Thank you.

Food is the single largest item disposed of in landfills, amounting to each person tossing an average of 20 pounds of food per month.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.