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Reducing food waste at home


Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Question for you: Would you take a shower that lasts 42 minutes? What about 6 hours? You might be thinking that sounds like an absurd question because who would waste that much water?

Well, here’s a startling fact. The true cost of food waste is hidden so each time you throw food away at home or at a restaurant, you are also wasting the energy, resources, water and labor that was used to grow, process and transport that food to your plate.

For example, the amount of water wasted when food is thrown away can be measured in shower minutes. A pound of bananas that ends up in the trash is equivalent to a 42-minute shower. A pound of ground beef, on the other hand, is equivalent to a shower lasting over 6 hours!

How can we be so careless with a resource that we hold so dear? It is estimated that U.S. consumers waste a pound of food per person per day. This adds up over time and could be costing your family $1500 per year on average.

Aside from the financial burden, food waste also contributes to our carbon footprint. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest GHG emitter behind China and the U.S.

Reducing food waste is a shared responsibility and we can all play a part in reaching the national food waste reduction goal – to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Changing a few habits in our food planning, preparation and storage can help reduce food waste at home, save money, and protect the environment.

With more people preparing food at home it’s a good reminder to keep an eye on how much of that food is ending up in the trash. Research shows that food waste increases as home-cooked meals and use of fresh produce increases. Small amounts of waste may go unnoticed over time which is why consumers are encouraged to track their waste and reevaluate their habits at home and when dining out.

Sadly, food waste is the most common material found in U.S. landfills but it doesn’t have to be! There are many tools and techniques related to planning, preparation and storage that can help reduce food waste at home. If you’re ready to take a stand against food waste, then join me and Martha Smith, horticulture educator, for two planet-friendly workshops this month.

No-waste kitchens and composting methods. This workshop is all about daily habits that can help keep food out of the landfill and more money in your pocket.

When/where: Wednesday April 7, 6-7 p.m. via Zoom. This is a free workshop but registration is required. 

Vermicomposting Bin Make-n-Take. We’ll provide the supplies and the red wriggles so you can take home your own worm bin and start composting your food scraps right away.

When/where: Thursday April 26, 6-7 p.m. at the Ill Extension office in Milan.

Cost: $15 person for supplies. Funding for this program is provided in part by a Quad Cities Community Foundation grant.

For more information and to register for one or both of these workshops, call the Rock Island County Extension office. For food rescue resources and a recording of today’s episode, visit WVIK.org/wellness.

Thank you for listening! This has been Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition & wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Wellness Wake Up Call is produced by WVIK in partnership with University of Illinois Extension, and sponsored by The Planning Center in Moline, assisting men and women with financial wellness and preparation for life's transitions, including retirement planning, college savings, marital changes, and estate planning. 

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Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.