Thoughts on Food Waste & The Food Day of the Year

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Whether the thought of crafting up a ravishing display of turkey and sides for this year’s Thanksgiving meal leaves you beside yourself with excitement or trembling with a bit of trepidation (I am the latter), I’m finally realizing that much more important than what celebrity chef’s stuffing recipe I go with or what style green beans I opt for, is how much celebrity stuffing and green bean casserole I whip up, how I make it all and of course, what I do after the fact.

Over the last year I’ve written frequently about the increased waste that’s pretty much synonymous with most holidays, so obviously I couldn’t pass up looking at Thanksgiving and what amounts to be the biggest “food” day of the year. For, no matter what: even if I pick the greenest recipe out there and promise to use only local, organic, sustainable ingredients, if in the end I make 5 times too much of that organic goodness and it ends up in my trash can, I all but nullify my green efforts.

Statistically, given the fact that the average American will consume 3,000-3,500 calories during the Thanksgiving meal itself (not counting any other meals or snacks during the day), it seems hard to imagine that there could possibly be any waste left over after that, but sadly enough, there is. There’s a ridiculous amount, and it’s just one meal on one day.

Now, clearly I’m not saying that waste on Thanksgiving is anything remotely new, and the fact that most of us cherish those demanded Thanksgiving leftovers does actually help to combat “some” of the waste. But, let’s take this back to basics with some general food waste ideas. According to a study at the University of Arizona Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, average American food waste looks something like this:

  • Not counting what we throw away on our plates after we’re done eating, American households throw away approximately $43 billion dollars worth of food every single year
  • That $43 billion dollars of wasted food equates to approximately 14% of what we buy
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