If you can’t prepare your veggies before they spoil, try blanching them to freeze them in time! What is blanching? It’s the process of rapidly heating and cooling fresh foods to prep them for extended stays in your freezer.
The benefits of blanching food, instead of just throwing it in the freezer, are numerous! The process helps prevent enzyme breakdown, preserving the flavor and texture of the fruits and veggies you love. In addition, it cleans and disinfects the food by killing microorganisms on the surface to keep the food fresher, longer. Most importantly, it also helps keep the nutritious value of the food intact and prevents the breakdown of essential vitamins and minerals we love in our veggies.
So what can you blanche? Pretty much any vegetable will benefit from the blanching process. Tender leaves will wilt while blanching, and some vegetables (broccoli, asparagus) will soften, but don’t worry, they will perk right up after thawing and cooking.
It is a delicate process but gets easier with practice. Under-blanching stimulates enzyme activity (which defeats the purpose of blanching), while over-blanching leads to partial cooking and causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins, and minerals.
The best thing to do is to follow the instructions below, and pay close attention to the time the vegetable spends being blanched. By keeping an eye on the timer you can prevent both under-blanching or cooking the food!
Try it out using these instructions:
Use a blancher with a blanching basket, fry basket, or a strainer (be sure to use oven mitts if you don’t have a handle to use), or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid.
Use one gallon of water per pound of prepared vegetables.
Put vegetable in blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place lid on blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, (if it doesn’t, too much vegetable is being used for the amount of boiling water).
Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil.
Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.
Immediately plunge basket of vegetables into a large quantity of cold water, 60ºF or below.
Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. If ice is used, about one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable is needed.
Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.
Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling. Extra moisture can cause loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.
To steam blanch the vegetables, simply keep them above the boiling water instead of submerging them by using a taller pot. Check out the graphic below to see some example times for some commonly used vegetables that are easy to blanch!
Blanching your vegetables before freezing them is not always necessary, but it can help extend shelf life, flavor and texture! The most important thing to remember is just to use up as much food as you can. The less food that ends up in the trash can, the less money you’ve wasted on uneaten groceries, and the less carbon impact is created by food waste! There are lots of other ways to reduce waste in your kitchen. Check out How to Reduce Waste with Kids and our Top 10 Ways to Improve Food Storage. Are you curious about how much food waste you are actually producing at home? Check out We Don’t Waste’s At-Home Food Waste Audit and see what foods are commonly going to waste in your kitchen!
Last year, we shared our seven essential reads on food systems covering many different aspects of food systems and food cultures. This year we have an updated collection of books for you to add to your summer reading list! Whether you’re interested in growing food, cooking it, eating it, or just learning more about food and all of the many ways it plays into our lives, we’ve got something for you!
Retail Inequality by Kenneth H. Kolb
We Don’t Waste in the business of making sure everyone, no matter their background, has equal access to nutritious food. For us, that means we provide free food to communities across Denver in areas considered to be “food deserts” or “food apartheids.” These are neighborhoods that lack multiple options for affordable, nutritious food. “Food apartheid” addresses the nature of intentional scarcity by the strategic placement of retail stores and whole-food markets in wealthy neighborhoods. Kolb takes a deep dive into two neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina, that have spent decades without access to nutritious food, and how the retail and food industry, and even public policy, contribute to the unequal access present in these communities.
Foodtopia by Margot Anne Kelley
Food isn’t just about nutrition and survival, but is also intrinsically tied to our lifestyle. Throughout America’s industrial and capitalistic history, there have continually been surges of the “back of the yard” counterculture movement. Through gardens, homesteads, and moving out to land far from the city centers, Kelley covers 5 groups—from the 1840s up through the COVID-19 pandemic—that have taken food production into their own hands in a form of radical self-sustenance. Fueled by the drive for furthering the sustainability of our land and water resources, racial equity, anti-consumerism, and control of their health through food, these groups found independence and their own “Foodtopias” in their backyard.
To Boldly Grow byTamar Haspel
Part memoir and part how-to guide, self-proclaimed “crappy gardener” Haspel shares the story of how she and her husband decided to reclaim their diets by growing their own food, keeping chickens, fishing, and even going out into the woods to forage for mushrooms, root bulbs, and anything else they find that is edible! Haspel’s goal is to prove that going out and making food or finding it ourselves really isn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be, as she shared her stories of triumph in MacGyvering harvesting tools, and by sharing the spectacular failures that ruined Thanksgiving dinner. In the end, Haspel discovers how the way we interact with and consume our food can change the way we think about our food—and even ourselves.
Getting Something to Eat in Jackson by Joseph C. Edwoozie, Jr.
Edwoozie, Jr. takes a deep dive into the way “foodways”—food availability, choice, and consumption—are changing in Jackson, Mississippi, and how the changing culture surrounding race is impacting food culture, and vice versa. Historically, food in Jackson had been a unifying force for Black Jacksonians in Mississippi, but as Edwoozie, Jr. discovers, the way people consume food has changed because of the existence of food deserts, the perception and reality of class differences, and how vegetarianism and veganism as a way to address health outcomes have all but displaced the traditional culture of “soul food” in the urban south. Edwoozie, Jr. spends a year following a diverse socioeconomic array of Jacksonians and discovers the habits and trends of the modern food culture and how it reflects societal changes in the area.
I Am From Here by Viswath Bhatt
There are few things more comforting than a home-cooked meal, and for Bhatt, this would be a combination of American Southern food and traditional Indian cuisine. Bhatt has been the executive chef of the Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi since 2009, earning him Best Chef: South (2019 James Beard Awards) and induction into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. This collection of stories and instruction includes over 130 recipes inviting you to grill, fry, and boil your way into a more delicious dinner evoking the flavors of an evolving southern cuisine.
What Your Food Ate by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé
When you think of the quality and the health benefits of the meat you eat, you’re also probably thinking about the things that animal was eating while it was alive. Montgomery and Bilke argue that the same standard should be applied to the plants we eat as well! Combining multiple scientific disciplines and weaving them into one cohesive story, Montgomery and Bilke show how the health of our soil has a direct impact on the quality of the food we consume and the health of humans as a whole. Can we produce enough quantity and quality food? We’ve got to heal the sick soil to do that, and the results of this could help reverse the modern epidemic of chronic diseases and mitigate climate change.
The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose
Discover how you can work with nature, as opposed to against it, by employing permaculture techniques in your garden. Through 80 different DIY projects, you can explore how to make your garden more eco-conscious and more resilient. Whether you’re working with an acre, a small raised bed, growing a grove of trees, or a single tomato plant, there are plenty of tricks and habits for you to implement to make permaculture accessible and working hard for your garden.
Iwigara by Enrique Salmón
The belief that all life-forms are interconnected and share the same breath—known in the Rarámuri tribe as iwígara—has resulted in a treasury of knowledge about the natural world, passed down for millennia by native cultures. Ethnobotanist Enrique Salmón builds on this concept of connection and highlights 80 plants revered by North America’s indigenous peoples. Salmón teaches us the ways plants are used as food and medicine, the details of their identification and harvest, and their important health benefits, plus their role in traditional stories and myths.
How We Eat by Paco Underhill
In this upbeat and witty approach, How We Eat reveals the future of food in surprising ways. Go to the heart of New York City, where a popular farmer’s market signifies how the city is getting country-fied, or to cool Brooklyn neighborhoods with rooftop farms. Explore the dreaded supermarket parking lot as the hub of innovation for grocery stores’ futures, or how marijuana farmers, who have been using artificial light to grow a crop for years, have developed a playbook on indoor farming for mainstream merchants like Walmart and farmers across the world. In How We Eat, Underhill shows how food intersects with every major battle we face today, from political and environmental to economic and racial, and invites you to the market to discover more.
Recovered food is sourced from countless businesses, and is donated for equally as many reasons. Some food comes from the excess that is produced intentionally to cover customer satisfaction in the event of an exchange or return. Other food items get caught in traffic during transit and arrive too late for grocers to meet the “sell-by” date. What is common across the country and throughout the entire food industry is the immense amount of food that never makes it to people’s dinner plates.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed in 1996 to shield food donors from criminal and civil liability, and as a result, encourage more food donations. The burden of food safety is transferred to the nonprofits and organizations receiving the food, and businesses are free to decide what food they donate.
It seems counterintuitive, but the Act is regularly cited by businesses as the reason they choose not to donate food. Something has to change when the Act that is meant to protect donors becomes a confusing and discouraging hurdle.
This is where the new, proposed Food Donation Improvement Act comes into play. It would update the 1996 Act, making it easier for people to donate food and to feel more comfortable with the process. The current Act does not have a specific agency in charge of clarifying the details, nor does it explicitly address many of the common circumstances in which a business or farm might donate food. Many business owners find the vague language concerning, and don’t have an immediate or official source of guidance.
The update would require the USDA to release regulations clarifying the protections that exist, the businesses and agencies that can donate, and which businesses (nonprofits, schools, food banks, etc.) they can donate food to.
In addition to the clarification, it would also extend liability protection to food businesses and farms that want to donate food directly to people in need without going through a registered nonprofit. A restaurant shut down by the pandemic that wants to serve community meals would be protected, as would a school that wants to send surplus food from meal programs home with low-income families. Finally, it would also cover organizations and companies that want to take surplus food and sell it at a very low cost—such as nonprofit grocery stores that accept donations.
The response to the Food Donation Improvement Act has been overwhelmingly positive from lawmakers and policy experts, with the sentiment being that making food donation easier is just common sense. It is a straightforward way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale and will increase food access as well.
And while activists acknowledge that the bill alone will not solve hunger, it represents an important step in reducing food insecurity and protecting the environment. Chef and advocate Tom Colicchio also argues that preventing food waste is a matter of showing respect for the food that nourishes eaters and the workers who produce it. By wasting food, he says, “we’re devaluing not just the food, but we’re devaluing the people who are responsible for feeding us.”
We Don’t Waste has signed the petition in support of this act, as it directly aligns with our goal of using food recovery and distribution as a means to support our environment and increase food access in our communities. To learn more and support this initiative, sign the petition here.
It’s Pride Month—a time to celebrate the diversity in Denver and the richness it brings to our community! But, while we celebrate, it is also important to reflect on the inequities in the present that we can work to solve. Though LGBTQ Americans have seen rapid advancements in both societal acceptance and civil rights protections in recent years, food insecurity continues to affect the community at higher rates than the general population.
In 2021, (for the first time ever!) the U.S. Census Bureau asked about sexual orientation and gender identity in the Household Pulse Survey. This survey was sent to measure different social and economic experiences of U.S. households throughout the pandemic, and as a result, can compare the experiences of LGBTQ adults with other groups.
Of the more than 64,000 people who responded to the bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey, over 13% of LGBTQ adults reported living in a household that experienced food insecurity in the past seven days, compared to 7.2% of non-LGBTQ adults. If there was any uncertainty about a discrepancy in the demographics, there is none now.
The survey also revealed the extent to which many LGBTQ Americans are struggling with economic insecurity. According to the results, 36.6% of LGBTQ adults reported living in a household that struggled to pay for expenses in the past seven days, with over 8% saying they were not confident they could afford to make their next housing payment on time. By comparison, just over one-quarter of adults who do not identify as LGBTQ reported experiencing economic insecurity.
A recent Gallup survey shows that 5.6% of the American population currently identifies as LGBTQ. The problem is not insignificant.
Fortunately, there are lots of organizations in Denver working to support LGBTQ youth and adults. Some of the larger organizations like The Center on Colfax and One Colorado are working to support the community through a long list of programs and free resources from mental health to legal representation.
There are a few organizations We Don’t Waste works with directly that help fight food insecurity in the LGBT community as well. We provide food to the Colorado AIDS Project as a part of the Colorado Health Network, and The Delores Project, which provides shelter to women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness. We Don’t Waste began working with the The Delores Project in 2011 and has been delivering food to support their food programs on-and-off since.
“What began as a winter-only shelter has now morphed into a robust 24/7 low-barrier, housing-focused 50-bed shelter with rehousing case management and wrap-around support. Our team embraces a housing-first model of care, working to get individuals out of the shelter system and into housing as quickly and safely as possible while providing the necessary support before, during, and after the transition into housing,” says Stephanie Miller, CEO of The Delores Project.
Being a 24/7 shelter means providing regular food to their program participants, and lots of it! The Delores Project serves three meals and two snacks a day to their residents alongside many other essential services. Food program costs can be a massive financial burden for nonprofit organizations, especially with rising grocery costs due to recent inflation rates. Fortunately for The Delores Project, they receive some help from the community.
“About 52% of the meals served in our shelter is donated,” Stephanie says. A few thousand pounds of that each month comes as a recovered food from We Don’t Waste!
In addition to the meals, they offer a food pantry for their residents in shelter and those transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing. It’s just one of the many ways they help create longterm solutions for the women, seniors, and transgender adults that seek support through their programs. Through free shelter, meals, mental-health education, and transitional housing programs, The Delores Project has created a system that allows for dozens of adults each year to transition from homelessness into stable and secure independence.
One of the ways We Don’t Waste is unique as an organization is our network of nonprofit partners, through which we are able to distribute millions of servings of food each month. Through our connection with The Delores Project, we are able to contribute to hundreds of free, nutritious meals each month for transgender and gender-expansive people in an environment where they can thrive in a community of specialized support.
Eco-anxiety, climate change anxiety, environmental paralysis. It goes by many names but can be described as the overwhelming feeling of stress and despair you get when you consider the environmental damage done by humans in the last century. It’s a complex feeling, and can be a different experience from person to person.
You’re browsing the news and you see that another species has gone extinct, or a photo of our oceans full of plastic. This can inspire feelings of guilt, stress, anxiety, or even grief. It is concerning, and you should respond with concern to news like this because you care about the future of our planet; that said, it is important to re-center ourselves, and not let the despair prevent us from taking action.
After all, there is more news coming out and studies published every day that show that many environmental problems are reversible, and with some effort, we have seen some pretty major environmental impacts out of efforts made around the world.
So what do we do to get over that feeling?
Do something about it!
It can feel impossible to make an impact when a lot of the damage is being done by multinational corporations, but there are ways you can make a major difference in your own neighborhood! Action is the best way to get over the feeling of hopelessness. Volunteer with a local organization working to make a change in your backyard! We Don’t Waste works to support our local environment by preventing as much food from going to our landfills as possible (which prevents highly volatile methane emissions). DUG and RE:Vision both allow you to participate in local community gardens and create free food for those in need.
Take a break from the news.
It can be hard to escape bad news when it seems to be the only kind of news presented to us on a daily basis. Try to go a day or two without looking at the news. Unless your job requires you to stay up to date on everything the minute it’s happening, you won’t be too out of the loop by giving yourself a short break. In fact, studies show that we often consume too much media, which causes our nervous system to be overloaded with information and can lead to increased stress and anxiety in our daily lives.
Focus on the GOOD
Believe it or not, there are countless groups working around the clock, all over the world, that are making a difference every day! There have been incredible innovations in green technology, more global political support, greater importance placed on systemic issues, and measures being taken to protect the most at-risk and important ecology. Did you know that there is a species of fungi that can eat and decompose plastic? And there are kelp forests being planted in the ocean to absorb atmospheric carbon and sink it deep into the ocean where it can be consumed by fish and completely removed from the cycle. How cool is that!
If podcasts are your thing, the Intersectional Environmentalist runs a podcast, The Joy Report, that focuses on news in climate solutions and environmental justice, but exclusively from an optimistic and joyful perspective!
Let the feelings out, and let others know
You are not the only person experiencing these feelings. As more and more people become aware of the importance and the severity of climate change, more are experiencing eco-anxiety. In the first tip, we mentioned volunteering with local environmentally-based nonprofits. These can be a great way to connect you with other people working to heal our planet. There are also lots of clubs and groups that meet virtually and in-person that can offer you some support. Look for Facebook groups in your area focused on conservation efforts, or organizations supporting political action in your local government.
Make sustainable changes at home
Sometimes even the smallest changes in your daily routine can lead to a larger personal impact, and can help reduce those feelings of helplessness over time. You can reduce your single-use plastic by swapping out products you currently use with others using more sustainable packaging like recycled cardboard or glass. Buy fruits and vegetables that aren’t packaged in plastic, and use your own produce bags when you shop.
It can be small changes like setting a timer for your showers or something as large as installing solar panels on your home. Everyone has access to different solutions, and what you can incorporate into your lifestyle will be different from your neighbor. Just figure out what makes sense for you, and don’t try to change everything at once! Not only will it feel good to make these changes in your life, but you’re voting with your dollar, a powerful tool for change.
Learn more about climate solutions
By better understanding the issues surrounding climate change and environmentalism, you won’t fall prey to the dramaticized and melodramatic news stories meant to make you click on an article out of fear and confusion. It can also help you feel more connected to the planet, and inspire feelings of wonder and admiration for the planet we live on.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is an excellent example of compassion and appreciation for nature from an indigenous lens, and one that sees plants as our partners on the planet, not as tools.
How to Be a Climate Optimist by Chris Turner covers a dozen climate-related projects around the world, all working to save our planet with innovative technology and proactive communities.
There are many ways to consider eco-anxiety and how it may play a role in our sustainability journey. Remember to validate your concerns without dismissing your power to drive change. Feel your feelings and let them motivate you to take action. Eco-anxiety may be a familiar or foreign feeling to you, but regardless, we have many opportunities to healthily manage our emotions and transform our worries into meaningful action.
It’s not your imagination: your grocery bill has gone up and food prices have risen substantially. Many Americans are feeling the squeeze of the increased costs as food prices continue to rise and food budgets are stretched to their limits.
Since the initial pandemic shutdowns in 2020, food systems globally and nationwide have struggled to adapt to disrupted production and delayed distribution. In addition to all of this, the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions on Russia mean that some of the top wheat producers are exporting a fraction of what they used to.
Let’s take a look at some of the consequences of these events on the U.S. food system up close.
In 2020, food-at-home (food you purchase at a grocery store) increased in cost across all food categories by 3.5% on average. The biggest increases in cost were beef and veal, pork, and poultry, increasing at 9.6%, 6.3% and 5.6% in cost, respectively.
This trend continued in 2021 with food prices again increasing at 3.5% on average across all food categories. Not a single category of food decreased in cost, but it’s a good time to be vegetarian! The largest difference was again beef, at a 9.3% increase. The smallest change was fresh vegetables at a 1.1% increase.
Does it get any better in 2022? Most likely not. Looking at the current prices and food trends, the ERS predicts that food prices will still continue to rise at a similar rate in every category. The conflict in Ukraine has placed international pressure on wheat production, with farm-level wheat prices now predicted to increase between 40 and 43 percent and wholesale wheat flour prices predicted to increase between 21 and 24 percent in 2022.
What does this mean for families dealing with food insecurity? It’s not great. The average SNAP recipient in the U.S. receives $239 per month for a household of two. That means one person is getting less than $30 a week.
Let’s say you bring home 2 pounds of ground beef, marinara sauce, two boxes of spaghetti, a packet of deli meat, a loaf of bread, two heads of lettuce, generic cereal, and a gallon of milk. Most Americans will have maxed out their SNAP budget with that much in their grocery cart, and it’s not enough. According to the USDA’s data, the average household of two individuals between the ages of 14 to 71 spent roughly $483 on groceries in March 2022. And that doesn’t include the toiletry purchases everyone makes each trip.
Inflation is expected to continue for a number of reasons. Ukraine and Russia produce about 30% of the world’s wheat, wheat flower, and sunflower oil, and with exports limited, the costs for these bulk items are soaring. Many products containing these ingredients are experiencing an uptick in price, and this also leads to a cost increase for animal products, as the feed these animals consume goes up in cost. To top it all off, increasing fuel prices make food transportation more costly, and the consumer ends up seeing this cost reflected in the cost of goods as well.
That was a lot. What do we do now, knowing that grocery prices will likely just continue to increase? Aside from the common answer of sharpening your couponing skills, it’s important to use what you have! We have a list of tips for keeping food fresh and delicious on our Education page. We have blogs on reducing waste with children at home, and ways you can improve your food storage to reduce waste in your fridge and pantry.
Keep an eye out for your neighbor as well! Food insecurity can affect anyone, at any time. If you know someone experiencing food insecurity, or you yourself are struggling, call the Colorado hotline for hunger, at 855-855-4626. It’s a toll-free number with 150+ language options and can provide you with food resources and more necessary items! Our Mobile Food Markets are also up and running nearly every week, and are a great way to supplement your grocery trips.
If you’d like to show your support for your neighbors through We Don’t Waste, check out our Get Involved page to find more ways you can help!
A big portion of food waste produced at the household level is actually edible food! Food waste isn’t just the old pizza in the back of the fridge or the cheese that’s been left to rot, but the little pieces that get shaved off of the tops, bottoms, and sides of food during food prep! Most people just assume these bits and pieces are inedible foods and sweep them into the trash, but many times the ends and stems can be used to create something delicious and can add up to many pounds of food you’re keeping out of the trash.
Carrots are a common food item in many kitchens, and the prep almost always begins with chopping off the top and shaving the outside of the carrot. Try these recipes below to creatively use the parts you may have otherwise discarded, and tag us at @WeDontWaste on Facebook and Instagram so we can see your creations!
Carrot Top Pesto
Did you know the tops of carrots are edible? Not only that, they can make a delicious addition to a pesto and help reduce your waste at home. Mix it with pasta, serve it as a dip, add it to baked smashed potatoes, toss it with white beans, or go all-in with carrots and serve it as a spread over roasted baby carrots.
1cuppacked green carrot tops (rough stems removed)
1cuppacked green baby spinach
1large clovegarlicfinely chopped
½cuproasted, unsalted cashews
½cupextra virgin olive oil
Rinse the carrot top greens to dislodge any dirt. Pick out and discard any dry, yellowed, or otherwise unappetizing looking leaves. Discard tough stems.
Place the carrot tops greens, baby spinach, chopped garlic, roasted cashews, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula.
While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula. Pulse until smooth.
Store the pesto in an airtight container in your fridge. It should last for up to week in the fridge, or up to 6 months in the freezer.
What do you normally do when you have to clean a carrot? Scrub it with vegetable cleaning solution or shave off the outside? If you shave them, gather the shavings and keep them in a vegetable bag in the fridge. The shavings will keep between 2-3 weeks until you are ready to prep them for this awesome (and vitamin-packed) snack!
Sweet & Savory Carrot Chips
Carrot chips can make for the perfect potato chip substitute when you're craving something salty! The next time you have leftover carrots or shavings from a previous recipe, save them to create a delicious treat.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
If you've saved the carrot shavings from another recipe, skip this step. Otherwise, trim the carrot tops off and save them for your pesto. Starting on the thick end, slice the carrots paper-thin on the bias to create elongated slices.
Place the carrot slices in a large bowl and add the oil, salt, cumin, and cinnamon. Toss well to thoroughly coat. Then lay the slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges start to curl up and turn crisp. Then flip all the chips over and bake another 5-8 minutes to crisp the bottoms. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For one of our recipient agencies, Giving Grocery (formerly known as South High School Food Pantry), food distribution is about more than feeding students; it’s about taking care of the students’ communities as well. We Don’t Waste has been distributing food to the organization since 2018, and is proud to have been a part of their growing impact over the years.
The pantry started in 2014 when Greg Thielen and Jaclyn Yelich’s daughter was enrolled in Denver South High School. Their daughter has since graduated college, but the pantry is still going strong with the duo at the lead.
Students enrolled in the school have the opportunity to shop every Thursday, and the pantry typically serves around 100 families each week. The offerings include fresh produce, proteins, milk, eggs, snacks, culturally relevant items, and even personal care items requested by the students.
For the Giving Grocery, the demand for culturally relevant food offerings is more important than for most, as Denver South High School is home to an extremely diverse community of students. The school has historically been welcoming to immigrants and has had students enrolled from Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Venezuela, Honduras, and more. Over 50 countries are represented in enrollment every year!
Part of We Don’t Waste’s commitment to serving the Giving Grocery is through the variety of food we deliver to them to meet their community’s needs. Food itself is essential for survival, but food that tastes like home is an even greater comfort.
When the pandemic hit, Giving Grocery was forced to adapt to changing circumstances and even greater needs.
“For many of our families, the first several months of the pandemic were incredibly difficult,” Greg says. “Some family members became seriously ill, some lost jobs, some had their work hours reduced dramatically, and children were at home instead of school. We worked hard to support our families during the first year of the pandemic by delivering food directly to their homes.”
With the help of dedicated volunteers, the pantry was delivering food to over 30 Denver South High School families every week! They remained open during the summer months as well, knowing that summer, in particular, can be a difficult time for food-insecure families who depend on free or reduced school meals.
Despite the country opening back up and parents and children headed back to their respective offices and schools, food insecurity continues to trouble many families. “The cost of housing, gasoline, electricity, heat, and food force many families to make difficult choices. Do they buy gas to get to work or do they buy food for their family?” Greg says.
Denver South High School is fortunate to have the Giving Grocery serving South’s students and their families’ needs, and We Don’t Waste is proud to have them as stewards of our recovered food. We know that each week, nothing is going to waste, and the people who need it the most are receiving the food and the support they need to thrive.
“Working together, we have made a difference for our kids and their families,” Greg says.
If you would like to support Giving Grocery, check out their website to make a donation and find volunteer opportunities!
Sustainability might be too big of a word to teach a pre-school child, but the idea can be taught!
As an adult it can be easy to make small changes to your habits to reduce food waste, but what about when you have kids? Saving food is not something that naturally comes to mind for a child, and introducing new foods into their diet can be a long and wasteful process.
The following tips should help your home save time, energy, and food!
For the youngest:
Feed them your food
Spare yourself the job of short-order cook by feeding your child the same food you eat, but puréed for the little ones. Serve yourself a smaller portion, knowing you’ll likely finish what they don’t. If you start when they’re young, this tip will help you go much further with the following steps.
Serve tiny portions
We want our kids to try new foods, but studies show many children have to try a food up to 15 times before accepting it! Start with small portions and minimize untouched food. You can always offer seconds when they’re interested.
Re-introduce the food
Speaking of those barely touched portions — save them! Either serve leftovers again in the next couple of days, or incorporate them into something else. Put leftover milk in your morning coffee and leftover veggies in a stir fry. Purees can be added to pasta sauce or soup.
Snacking on the same foods every day and going into a meal with a full stomach makes it more difficult for a child to have an interest in trying new foods. Snack time can also be used for re-introduction to new foods, although this might require some creativity if it isn’t well-disguised!
FOR NEW EATERS:
Forget 5 seconds
Place a clean mat below your small child’s high chair before serving food. That way, food that falls (or gets jettisoned) off the tray is still safe to eat and can be placed back on their plates.
Serve finger foods
If utensils are causing a lot of food spills, consider switching to finger foods more often. Little nuggets don’t spill, can be easily recovered off the mat below, and allow your child to learn to feed themself independently.
Don’t engage in the food fight
Kids throw food on the floor to test their boundaries, but it doesn’t do anybody good to clean an entire meal off the ground. Stay nearby as they’re learning to eat and intervene before the food starts flying. Give them a specific place on their plate or tray to put food instead. They’ll eventually get it, and you’ll have less cleaning to do as a result.
As They Get Older:
Inspect the lunch boxes
Pack reusable containers with lunch, and have your kids bring home leftover food and drinks. Asking why some food went uneaten will help you offer the right foods in the right amounts next time. Sometimes small changes like cutting foods into smaller pieces can make lunch more appealing.
Use the IKEA effect
People tend to like things they helped make, and children are no different. Involve your kids in cooking and give them choices when possible. Allow them to serve themselves in the portions they want, within reason.
Garden and visit a farm
Kids who are involved in growing fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. Give your whole family an appreciation and respect for the resources required to bring food to the table by participating in the local food systems that bring the food into the pantry.
While many of these tips can help you reduce food waste in your home, it is equally as important to let your child know why it is important that food is eaten and doesn’t end up in the trash. The World Wildlife Fund has several extensive toolkits for kids ranging from K-12 with educational activities and ways to get your child involved as a food waste warrior! You can also print out our We Don’t Waste coloring page to get your child engaged in the conversation of food waste.
Are you an educator? We Don’t Waste has an engaging education program for schools that can include a food waste audit performed during the children’s lunch period! It’s free, flexible, and content can be tailored to your class’s level and interests.
Food Waste Prevention Week is April 4th – April 8th, and we invite you to celebrate with us! Food waste is something many American households struggle with, but, fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce it and make a BIG impact.
Food waste costs you! Every year, the average household spends $1,600 on food that ends up in the trash. Nobody wants to lose that money!
It also wastes the time and the effort of the countless people working hard fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and delivering that food to your door. And that’s not all; the wasted food does further damage to our beloved outdoor space.
Let’s get started!
Follow us on social media! We will be sharing tips and tricks and playing food waste prevention bingo all week. We will be giving away some sweet prizes to random winners who participate in the bingo!
After you have saved or printed your bingo card, try to complete as many of the bingo squares as you can throughout the week. Take a photo of yourself completing an activity on the bingo card and tag us @WeDontWaste on Instagram and @WeDontWasteDenver on Facebook. You can also send it through direct message, or email Caroline@WeDontWaste.org to share your entry! Random winners will be selected at the end of the week to receive We Don’t Waste merch!
You can also play Save The Food’s Bingo Card for another chance to win a prize!
Subscribe to our Newsletter! We will send more tips and tricks and keep you updated on We Don’t Waste’s impact on the community!
If you’d like to get the young ones at home involved (or just want to relax with a good coloring session, print out our Food Recovery coloring page!
Keep reading for more tips! We have compiled some tips from SaveTheFood.com on storing some of the most popular and common foods you’ll find in any home. Next time you find yourself looking for an easy trick to make a change, refer back to this guide!
These days avocados are everywhere. Here are some tips to keep them ripe and ready:
• Your avocados ripen best if you keep them on the counter.
• Avocados adore the dark, so keep them out of direct sunlight.
• Once they are ripe, you can keep them a few days longer if you store them in the fridge.
• Once you open an avocado, if you are not eating the full thing in one sitting, you can keep it fresh in the fridge by placing the side with the pit still in it face down in a little water in a container. Or dampen with water, oil, or lemon juice and store in a bag in the fridge.
Potatoes, Onions, Garlic
These common comfort food ingredients prefer to be alone in the dark:
• Keep them cool and dry —To keep your potatoes and onions fresh for longer, store them in a cool, dry place.
• Keep them separated — These vegetables don’t play nice together in the cupboard. Potatoes stored with onions will sprout and rot more quickly than if they are stored separately. So keep them away from each other.
To keep your oranges and grapefruit sweet and juicy, you want to keep them cold and dry:
• Citrus will last about a week on the counter but can keep fresh up to a month in the fridge.
• Make sure your oranges and grapefruits are dry before you store them in the fridge. This will reduce rot and prevent spoilage.
As for lemons, they retain their punch if stored in the fridge in a sealed bag or container.
Cold, fresh milk beats spoiled milk any day. Here’s how we can make the most of our milk, keeping it freshest longest:
• Milk stays best in the coldest part of the fridge — If you can, store it towards the back of the fridge, and on the lowest shelf (that’s normally the coolest part of your fridge). And check your fridge temperature if you can — the best temperature for milk to prevent it from going bad is just above freezing between 33 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Milk can be frozen to keep even longer — If you have more than you need, you can freeze milk to preserve it for up to six months. Pro tip: Milk expands when frozen so remove 1 cup of milk from the container before freezing. Once ready to drink, defrost in the refrigerator.
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring. Farmers cut young stalks when they peak six to ten inches above the soil line and rush the tender green shoots to our tables. The season is short and plentiful, and we can buy in bulk when it’s cheapest and save for later. Asparagus will keep 10 days to 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen too. A few tips for keeping it crisp and happy in the fridge:
• It likes to be cold, but not too cold — Keep it in a crisper drawer or towards the front of the fridge.
• Asparagus is thirsty — If possible stand it up in a couple of inches of water to keep it from drying out. Trim the ends ¼ inch before putting it in a jar with water as you would fresh flowers. Change the water if you see it getting cloudy.
• If you don’t have room to stand it up, wrap it and let it lie down — Trim and wrap the bottom of the bunch in a damp paper towel and store in a crisper drawer or on a shelf toward the front of the fridge.
•To freeze, a little prep time will go a long way: Trim and Blanche – Cut or snap off woody bottom of the stems (bonus: store separately for asparagus soup). Drop-in boiling water for 2 minutes to blanche then drop in ice water to stop the cooking. Dry it well, if possible freeze it first on a cookie/sheet pan and then transfer to a storage container. It’ll last for up to one year.
•Cook it straight from the freezer — No need to defrost. When ready to use, cook straight out of the freeze
As the weather turns warmer, fresh crisp salads and lighter foods, in general, maybe on the menu more often at home. But what if we’re getting our greens only every week or so?. Here are a few tricks to keep our greens from turning limp and mushy:
• Keep them dry — Washed or unwashed, wrap them loosely in dry paper or cloth towel to absorb the moisture that rots them quickly.
• Keep them cold but not too cold — Keep them in the crisper drawer or on a shelf towards the front of the fridge.
• Give them air and space — Place wrapped greens directly in the fridge or place in a covered but unsealed container that lets airflow. Keep them away from other fruits that produce ethylene gas and will accelerate the rotting of your greens, such as apples, peaches and pears.
More than half of all kids say that strawberries are their favorite fruit, and it’s easy to understand why. This bright, sweet, colorful early summer treat can be eaten alone or as the star of a recipe. Some tips to keep them from going soft on us too quickly:
• Keep them cold and dry — Store them in the original container in the fridge and hold off on washing until you’re ready to eat them. This is a good tip for all berries!
• Don’t let a bad strawberry spoil the rest — Sort through your berries before you refrigerate and pick out any that are moldy or spoiled.
• Freeze for later — To enjoy the bright sweet taste of summer throughout the year, you can freeze fresh whole or sliced berries. To freeze, rinse, remove the green stems and caps, dry well, and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen solid, place in sealed containers and return to the freezer.
Cherries love the cold. Store them in the fridge and they will keep fresh longer. An hour of room temp storage is equal to a week in the fridge when it comes to preserving taste and texture.
•Don’t wash until you are ready to enjoy your cherries.
•Freeze cherries whole, first in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid and then transfer to a sealed storage container and return to the freezer.
Peaches should be stored at room temperature and eaten when you feel a ‘little give’ with a gentle squeeze.
•Once peaches are ripe, you can move them from the counter to the fridge to keep ripe for about a week.
•Peaches prefer to hang out alone – keeping them separated from other fruits will keep them fresh and tasty longer
•Freezing peaches when fresh and in season is a great idea — you can rinse and cut peaches into slices, soak in a water/ lemon juice bath (to prevent browning use about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 4 cups of water) and freeze first on a cookie sheet for 4 to 24 hours. Next transfer to an airtight storage container and return to the freezer, where they will last up to1 year
Room temperature is best – Tomatoes retain their flavor and ripen best at room temperature rather than in the fridge. So best to store on the counter, out of direct sunlight in a single layer stem side down.
•Happiest alone – Tomatoes ripen best if kept apart from other summer fruits and vegetables.
•Extend their life in the fridge – Once ripe, if you’re not using them immediately you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge, where they will generally retain their form and flavor for up to a week.
•Freeze whole – If you have an excess of ripe tomatoes, you can freeze whole to use later for soups, stews or sauce. Just remove the stems and freeze (optional, remove core). If you have the space and time, flash freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid then move to sealed containers and return to freezer. Or simply place fresh tomatoes in storage containers and set in the freezer. Defrost, core and use as you would canned tomatoes.
Broccoli is delicious. Here are a couple of tips to keep this favorite fresh:
• Broccoli prefers to be cold and slightly damp and likes air circulation. The best two options for storing it in the fridge for up to a week:
• Wrap in a slightly damp towel before putting your broccoli in the fridge.
• Stand a full head of broccoli in the fridge in a glass so air can circulate around its head as if it were flowers in a vase.
• If you want to keep it fresh for longer, you can prep and freeze:
• Cut the florets (the bushy part) from the stem, drop in boiling water for just a minute or two to blanche, let it dry well, and then store in a sealed bag or container in the freezer. This will keep in the freshness –blanched, frozen broccoli can last up to 1 year in the freezer.
If you’re looking for more active ways to get involved throughout the year, check out our volunteer opportunities! You can also make a lasting impact by making a donation. However you choose to get involved, your support helps us recover more food and feed more Coloradans.