Your Health: MSU Cook Fresh

BOZEMAN — A recent article about reducing food waste that appeared in Time magazine featured quotes from Carmen Byker Shanks, an associate professor in Montana State University’s Department of Health and Human Development and a registered dietitian.

The article, “Food Waste Is a Huge Environmental Problem. Here Are 5 Ways to Reduce Yours,” was written by Jamie Ducharme and published Sept. 3 in the Living/Environment section.

Ducharme noted that a report from the World Resources Institute says food waste is responsible for 8% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, and that 25% of agricultural water use and a land mass the size of China go toward producing food that ultimately goes uneaten. Consequently, Ducharme wrote, cutting back on food waste could help the environment by saving the resources and energy that go into producing unneeded food and by reducing methane that is produced by rotting food in landfills. In addition, Ducharme wrote, Byker Shanks said wasting good food items also contributes to food and nutrition insecurity.

To combat the issue, Byker Shanks advised careful shopping habits.

“When shopping, plan your grocery list, avoiding impulse buying or stocking up so much that you can’t use the food by the time it’s going to go bad,” she said in the article. She also recommended freezing, canning, fermenting or pickling foods before they spoil; incorporating unneeded items into soups, sauces or smoothies; giving food away to friends or food banks; and composting.

Other tips in the article from Byker Shanks included placing perishable foods toward the front of the refrigerator or pantry; strategies to follow to keep foods from spoiling; and keeping portion sizes moderate.

“Overeating is also a form of food waste,” Byker Shanks said. “Being mindful of how much you eat is also a way to reduce food waste.”

As a part of her work as a professor, Byker Shanks co-directs the Food and Health Lab at MSU.

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