Tomorrow is Earth Day. It is also a perfect day to remember to #WasteLess food. Although beef is one of the least wasted commodities produced in the U.S., at around 20 percent of edible product going to waste, consumers can help improve beef sustainability by 10 percent simply cutting that waste in half.
How do we waste beef? I certainly don’t like to, but remember that one extra steak that got pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten? That happens sometimes, but I try to plan my meals so I’m using leftovers to make other types of meals. I have a meal-planning notepad on my fridge so I can make a plan on Sundays and see it throughout the week to keep me accountable to waste less food and money.
Speaking of money, besides just wasting the food, think about the money you’re sending down the drain or in the trash when you throw out spoiled food. The beef checkoff’s 2015 Sustainability Executive Summary shows that food waste costs the average American family approximately $2,500 annually. I know a lot of other things I’d like to do with that $2,500!
Other cattle producers like me are not only reducing food waste in their homes, they are doing their part on the farm and ranch, too. Through better management of cattle nutrition, farmers and ranchers are able to take byproducts common in their region, such as almond hulls, beet pulp, distillers grains, cotton hulls and potato starch, and feed that to cattle instead of letting it go to waste.
On our ranch, we also use mineral tubs so the mineral does not go on the ground and get wasted. Then when the cows have eaten all of the mineral in the tubs, we recycle them into other things, like my DIY compost bin! This also helps prevent food waste by allowing me to put food scraps or other organic materials to recycle and give nutrients to my garden.
I now have an upgraded rotating compost bin, but I still use by DIY compost tubs to have two batches going at once.
Several beef producers are participating in the 30-Day Food Waste Challenge. The 30-Day Food Waste Challenge is the Beef Checkoff’s way of spreading the word that the easiest way to improve the sustainability of all food, including beef, is to reduce food waste. You can help fight food waste by making small changes to your daily routine and sharing your experience to raise awareness in your communities. I have signed up for this challenge and encourage you to as well here. This challenge is featured on the homepage of the “Beef. Its’ What’s For Dinner.” website and signing up for the challenge will introduce simple changes to fight food waste in your daily routine.
Hope you can join others and me in this Challenge! Find us all on social media with the #WasteLess hashtag. Happy Earth Day!