Food Waste Facts

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Did you know that food loss and waste accounts for 31% of the U.S.’s overall food supply annually?  It is the single most component of disposed municipal solid waste.

About 90 billion pounds of edible food goes uneaten each year.  This waste weighs 123x the Empire State Building and costs consumers about $370 per person each year.

An American family of four leaves, on average, more than 2 million calories uneaten each year, which amounts to approximately $1,500.

These facts above were published in the USDA’s news release made in September, 2015, in which the government announced the U.S.’s first-ever national food waste reduction goal of 50% by 2030 (read it here!).  Didn’t hear about it?  Yeah, me neither.  With statistics like the ones above, everyone needs to hear about this.

Consumers account for about 21% of food loss and waste.  That’s you and me, through our every day lives.  As our population continues to grow, food waste is going to become a pressing issue both in the United States and globally.  It impacts the environment (methane gas released by landfills when food rots is 25% more potent than carbon pollution in cars), our economy, natural resources and food security for millions of people.

One of the things I miss most about living in San Francisco is composting.  The city is one of a few that has a composting program in which residents are given little composting bins for their kitchens and big green bins to dump scraps in outside.  The green bins are picked up weekly with the blue recycling bins.  I am not able to do this anymore in the urban area in which I currently live and I have been meaning to do something about all of the food scraps that currently go into my trash.

So what can I (and you) do about this issue?  Here are 10 of my favorites.  If you have any additional ones, feel free to leave a comment below.

  1. Eat the whole food.  Buy a whole chicken and use the bones to make a killer stock afterwards (here is my go-to recipe for roasted chicken!).  Sauté your beet greens after you snip them off of the beets.  Roast the entire stem of broccoli and cauliflower along with the florets.  Eat your apple to the core.  The pits of fruit?  Just kidding, you have permission toss those and please do as many of them are poisonous.
  2. Ask for a doggie bag if you don’t eat all of your food at a restaurant.
  3. Don’t buy more until you’ve finished what you already have.  This will help prevent multitudes of condiments from piling up on the door of your fridge and from having two containers of the same thing open at once.  If you run out of Greek yogurt, add it to your grocery list and be creative about what you can eat until you can get some more.
  4. Plan ahead for your week’s meals, make a grocery list and stick to it.  Only buy what you need.  Your pocketbook will thank you.
  5. Re-use ziplock bags.  Wash them out and let them dry in your dish drainer.  Or get re-usable ziplock bags!  I love these ones by Blue Avocado, which I use for raw veggies, my go-to afternoon snack at work.
  6. Use a slow cooker.  Did you know that it uses less energy than a lightbulb?  There are so many crock-pot recipes on Pinterest it isn’t even funny.
  7. Create freezer scrap bags.  Use 1 for vegetable stock, 1 for leftover bones to use for chicken stock, 1 for sauces (such as pesto) and 1 for smoothies.  I think this is brilliant and am putting this into action pronto.
  8. Use cloth napkins.  Just picture how many paper towels you probably go through on a weekly basis.  I’m guessing it’s a lot right?  Use cloth towels and napkins in your kitchen and at the dinner table to save a few trees.
  9. Compost!  My parents built their own compost bin for their backyard and once the compost has broken down, they use it in their gardens.  Talk about free fertilizer…  And if it means anything, their gardens are beautiful.  If you are lucky to live in a community that composts, please take advantage of that!
  10. Recycle.  So much goes to landfills that can be recycled and used again.  Buy a reusable water bottle instead of buying packs of bottled water.  Just make sure it’s BPA free!  There are tons these days.  I use a glass bottle made by the company Life Factory.

Interested in some more resources?  ChooseMyPlate.gov has a whole section on food waste and a 1 page infographic you can print and post on your fridge.  Australian Sarah Wilson also writes often about food waste, a topic she is very passionate about (see her blog here!).

Experts project that reducing food losses by 15% would provide enough food for over 25 million Americans each year.  Let’s stop feeding landfills and feed people instead.  We can all make an individual difference by being more cognizant of food waste in our own lives.

What can you change in your life today to help reduce your overall food waste?

Peace, love and leftovers,

The Yogi~Foodie

CC image used above courtesy of m4tik-128db on flickr

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Pumpkin + Banana, Almond Butter & Maca Smoothie

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I have a little confession to make…  I have been really resisting the onset of Fall. Yes, it is my favorite season and the trees around my home turn into breathtaking colors. Yes, pumpkins and squash (some of my favorite veggies) are all around. Yes, I do enjoy a little cooler of weather and how I can break out my boots and sweaters again.  In the past I have welcomed Fall with open arms, but not so much this year.

The truth is, I am dreading the winter.  The snow and ice and numerous days of too little sunlight.  My body doesn’t like it too much and every year I wonder how many more times I can put myself (and my poor little dog) through it.  Poor Fall and all its gloriousness has taken the brunt of this dread.  I’ve been looking too far into the future and it has been preventing me from enjoying my present.  Sounds a lot like what I’ve been writing about recently!

This wonderful smoothie recipe is a remix on an earlier one I’ve posted (see the original here!).  It has helped me to embrace the onset of Fall while also holding onto the Summer a little bit.  The only new ingredient?  Pumpkin of course!  A little canned pumpkin takes this smoothie to a whole new level, so I hope you give it a try.

Here are a few facts that make pumpkin a nutritional powerhouse and great addition to your morning routine:

  1. 1 cup contains more than 200% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids in vision.
  2. Pumpkins are high in fiber, with 3 grams in 1 cup.  This will help keep you fuller longer and stave off the need for snacks between meals.
  3. Pumpkins are high in the cancer fighting antioxidant beta-carotene, which gives it its orange color.  These carotenoids fight free radicals which may cause cancer and also help keep your skin wrinkle-free.
  4. Thought bananas were high in potassium?  Try pumpkin!  1 cup contains 564 milligrams compared to a banana’s 422.  Potassium helps the body to restore electrolytes after a tough workout and keeps your muscles functioning at the top of their game.
  5. Pumpkins are a great source of vitamin C.  1 cup contains 11 milligrams, which is about 20% of a woman’s recommended daily intake of 60 milligrams (recommendation for men is 75).

This smoothie is great for breakfast or post-workout and can be taken with you on the go.

Pumpkin + Banana, Almond Butter and Maca Smoothie

serves 1

  • 1/2 canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened hemp milk (unsweetened almond milk would work too)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tbsp maca powder
  • 1 banana (I prefer to use frozen bananas as they make the smoothie cooler without having to use ice, which dilutes the flavor.  If you choose to use a banana that has been frozen, let it sit for 5 minutes or so before trying to peel it.)
  • 1 tbsp natural almond butter (i.e. the kind without added sugar)
  • dash (or two) of cinnamon

Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Add more liquid as needed to achieve your desired consistency.  Enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!

Peace, love and smoothies,

The Yogi~Foodie

CC image used above courtesy of frankieleon on flickr

To Cook or Not to Cook?

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I recently started reading Michael Pollan’s most recent novel, Cooked.  As the title suggests, it discusses the practice of cooking in its various forms and how it may be one of the most important ways to improve our personal health and wellness, as well as the vitality of the American food system.

While I haven’t gotten very far yet, this is a belief I have had for a while and feel pretty strongly about (so I can pretty much guess that I’m gonna love this book!).  I try to make cooking a regular part of my life and it is something I truly enjoy doing (though not so much the doing dishes when I’m done part…).  When I’m in a rut or physically feeling like “blah”, I go back to my kitchen to whip up some veggie-centered, balanced, nourishing goodness.  It gets me back to feeling like myself.

Pollan opens his book with a discussion on what he calls the “Cooking Paradox”.  The quote below from the book describes pretty well what he means…

How is it that at the precise historical moment when Americans are abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television?  The less cooking we were doing in our own lives, it seemed, the more that food and its vicarious preparation transfixed us.

I think Pollan’s words are fascinating and totally on point.  As a population, we have definitely moved away from home cooked meals and more towards those prepared by others (restaurant chefs or a laboratory mainly).  Yet we are fascinated by food.  It is on the cover of magazines, all over TV and the Internet, including Pinterest and social media.  Are we nostalgic for older days when food was prepared in the home and shared at the table?  Are we craving, deep down, nourishing and wholesome foods that come from the earth and are prepared with love?  Maybe it’s a little of both, and probably some other reasons too.

Do you notice this paradox in your own life?

I will call myself out here and say that I have four cookbooks on my counter, two of which I have never used.  (I have plenty more on the shelf but let’s not get too crazy here…) And I actually cook!  Like most things in life, it is so easy to get used to doing things a certain way.  As I’ve written about before, habits can be both good and bad.  Adventure and trying new things bring excitement and can stir up forgotten or unknown passions.  The same thing applies to food right?

I have been meaning to become more adventurous in my kitchen for a little while now.  My same old same old healthy dishes just aren’t cutting it for me anymore.  I find that I am not as satisfied with things I prepare.  I am cooking for two sometimes these days as well.  So I think I am reading this book at the perfect time (funny how things work out that way, huh?).  Time to get the binding creased on those cookbooks and roll up my sleeves…

Is cooking something you do in your life?  If not, is it something you want to do more of?  Ask yourself what may be stopping you.  I’m guessing time may be a big factor for many, and I get it.  But think of it this way; the food you eat is one of the biggest determining factors in your health, happiness and quality of life.  Don’t you think we should devote just a little bit more time to cooking and eating well rather than watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web?

Peace, love and healthy cooking,

The Yogi~Foodie

Back for More

As all of you lovely people know from my previous post, I have taken a little self-imposed sabbatical from my beloved blog recently.  My time off has done wonders for me and my personal/mental health and has also had a positive impact on the important relationships in my life.  While I am still working through the same issues I was dealing with before, I have learned a few things and have a different perspective that I am currently working on cultivating.  As writing and sharing with my readers is one of the ways I bring about positive change in my own life, returning to write about my journey with you was a must.

So what have I learned over the past few weeks?  Here are a few tidbits of Yogi~Foodie wisdom that may be helpful with what you’ve got going on in your own life…

Be okay with the present, even if it’s not where you ultimately want to be. Life’s a journey and each aspect of that journey is meant to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.  Don’t let your mind wander too much to thoughts of the future and kick the “if/then” statements to the curb!  For so long I thought “if I do x, y and z then I will be happy in my career.”  That didn’t get me anywhere and fostered some serious negativity.  I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with my health coaching certification and my passion for nutrition and helping others heal in a way that is best for them, but I am working on being okay with that and seeing where my journey takes me.

We’ve all got something going on, what matters is the attitude we bring to it.  It is so much easier to deal with a situation or a challenge when we look at it through a positive lens.  Challenges are an inevitable part of life and usually take us to new and better places and bring a fresh perspective.  Instead of thinking “Man, I’ve got to deal with this sh**?” how about you say “Yeah, this isn’t exactly what I want to do right now but maybe I will learn something new or it will take me somewhere I can’t even imagine right now.”  Shift your perspective to one that is positive and light instead of dark and heavy.  When I started doing this I noticed that I wasn’t so tired all of the time anymore.

Don’t let your current circumstances influence how you live your life.  Rise above; don’t let it define you.  Nothing lasts forever and this too shall pass.  If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for support.  And support yourself.  Find time to fit in things that make you happy and give you a boost.  For me, some of these things include yoga, cooking healthy food, exercise, getting enough sleep and spending quality time with my loved ones.  If I make time for these things, what I currently have going on doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

Embrace the fear.  I’ve been reading a book recently written by a well known yoga instructor who is a big inspiration of mine.  She writes that “if doing something new doesn’t scare you at least a little, it’s not worth doing.”  I am trying to live by these wise words with the big decisions that are going to come up for me as I figure out my next steps.  But I also think it’s important to not let the fear consume you.  Always embrace fear, but from a place of love.

Happy fall folks.  It’s good to be back.  🙂

The Yogi~Foodie