Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Spoiled Rotten: How to Make Your Fruits and Vegetables Last
Americans throw out 25 percent of the produce they buy because it’s gone bad. How to stop the waste? Know when to shop, learn which fruits and veggies don’t get along and which ones to keep out of the fridge.
Perhaps you do it once a week. Perhaps only when you trace those sulfurous odors to your refrigerator’s crisper drawers. But eventually, you toss out spoiled vegetables and fruits. Lots of them. Researchers at the University of Arizona recently spent a year tracking families’ food-use habits. Working with the United States Department of Agriculture, they interviewed the families about their eating habits, collected their grocery receipts, watched them prepare meals, and then sifted through every last discarded lettuce leaf, slice of bread, burger and bean.
The results, reported in 2002, were pretty shocking. The families tossed out an average of 470 pounds of food per year—about 14 percent of all food brought into the home—at an annual cost of $600. Every day, they discarded more than half a pound of fruits and veggies. In total, Americans chuck a quarter of all the produce they buy, mostly because it’s gone bad, says Timothy Jones, PhD, contemporary archaeologist at the University of Arizona. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.
Wasting produce is, well, a waste—bad for our wallets and bad for the environment. Plus, who wants to make a salad when confronted with a bin of rotting sludge? All this led us to ask: How can we keep produce fresh longer?