Americans Waste a Whole Lot of Food

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Getty Images

Have you ever thrown out food just because it was past the sell-by date? Or maybe you threw a massive holiday party, got it catered, and no one consumed anything besides the contents of the open bar. What do you do with the food then? You can pack it up in plastic containers and force it upon your guests, or you stuff it in a trash bag, toss it in the garbage, and pretend that you didn’t just waste enough food to feed a family for a week. (I’ve seen it happen.)

Americans waste a lot of food—not just bread crusts and scraps from the dinner table, but perfectly good, totally edible food. According to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, “the U.S wastes 31 to 40 percent of its post-harvest food supply." That’s about $160 billion per year—with the majority coming from homes, restaurants, and stores. The average American family wastes $1,365 to $2,275 worth of food and drink every year, but few realize it.

Out of the 1010 people surveyed, “three quarters of respondents said they discard less food than the average American.” The report, published in PLOS One, also found that on the list of waste-reduction motivations, saving the environment ranked lowest, while setting a good example for children and saving money ranked highest.

As far as reasons to throw food away, respondents listed concerns about disease, and “a desire to eat only the freshest food.”

An article published by CNN in 2012 attributed restaurant-related waste to increased portion sizes and large buffets. For retailers, the problem stemmed from stores overstocking “displays of fresh produce to give an impression of bounty, leaving items at the bottom bruised and unsellable,” and having to discard food with damaged or seasonally irrelevant packaging.

That’s a lot of snowman-shaped sugar cookies going down the proverbial toilet.

As part of the study, the respondents were given a list of “possible changes retailers could make to help reduce household discarding of food.” Among the options, the most popular were “more resealable packages," "more variety in product sizes," and "discounting foods that are over-ripe or near expiration.”

Dough Rauch, the ex-president of Trader Joe’s, is doing his part to reduce waste. Just this month, he opened Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store in Dorchester, Massachusetts that caters to the neighborhood’s lower-mid income residents. According to NPR, “Most of the stock is donated by food wholesalers and markets” because “it either didn’t sell or it’s surplus.” Think of it as the Marshalls of cuisine.

There’s only one Daily Table so far, but hopefully, the store, or at least the concept, will spread.

[h/t Mother Jones]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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Move Over, Mister Softee: Margarita Trucks Are Bringing Cocktails to Your Doorstep

The margarita man cometh.
The margarita man cometh.
Camrocker/iStock via Getty Images

If anything could possibly rival the appearance of an ice cream truck on a sweltering day, it would be the sight of a similar automobile emblazoned with the word margarita heading down your street.

Residents of San Antonio, Texas, can now make that dream a reality. La Gloria, a restaurant owned by chef Johnny Hernandez, is bringing its signature margaritas and other popular menu items right to people’s doorsteps by way of bright pink “Margarita Trucks.”

MySA reports that the first truck has already started making deliveries within 3 miles of Crockett Park in downtown San Antonio, but additional trucks will venture as far as Dominion, Stone Oak, Alamo Heights, and other neighborhoods in the coming days.


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“Today, safety is top of mind for everyone, and many of our customers are simply not ready to dine out,” Hernandez said, according to KSAT.com. “However, we know that doesn’t mean they don’t crave one of our famous margaritas.”

Those famous margaritas include La Gloria’s house recipe (on the rocks or frozen), as well as a variety of other refreshing flavors like prickly pear, mango, cucumber, and strawberry. The truck will also be stocked with a selection of taco kits and snacks like street corn, chips, salsa, and queso, and customers must purchase at least one food item with their alcoholic beverage.

Unlike ice cream trucks, the margarita trucks won’t exactly be cruising around town, ready to pull over for any spontaneous customer. Instead, they’ll operate more like regular food delivery services—you have to order and pay online in advance, and there’s an order minimum of $40.

While you’re waiting for some enterprising restaurateur to launch a fleet of margarita trucks in your city, learn how to make your own margarita at home with these priceless tips from a cocktail pro.

[h/t mySA]