Tag Archives: grocery

Tip #14: Don’t waste food

Food is arguably one of the most frivolously wasted resources on earth, especially here in the United States. According to the USDA, in 2010 31% of food sold in retail went uneaten. And that’s just the food that actually made it to retail, not losses of food on the farm. In store, about 10% of food went uneaten, and the remaining 20% is food that we consumers disposed of at home. That’s 90 billion pounds of food that we as consumers threw away in one year, in one country. The USDA also says that the majority of this food was meat, poultry, fish.

Considering the amount of resources that it takes to raise cows, chickens, or pools of fish, it’s especially egregious that these are the foods we waste the most in America. And a lot of the time, wasting food in the home just comes down to bad planning. And thank your lucky stars that you have the internet, because now you can google solutions to all your life’s problems.

Here’s a few of the best ways to avoid wasting such a wonderful, delicious resource:

  1.  Under buy, don’t over buy: This is probably number one for me. Unless it’s some insane sale food item that you can freeze and eat forever (like Lucky’s chicken for .$88/lb last week) don’t buy the entire deal they try to sell you. Most of the time, if a store says “10 for $10” you don’t actually have to buy 10 lbs of potatoes in order to save money. And even if you did, you might only eat 5 before they bruise and soften, and then you didn’t really save any money at all. Buying a lot more for less money is still spending money.
  2. Properly store your food: as a college student, this is the easiest rule to break. It’s so easy to forget to put the milk in the fridge, or the ribs in the freezer. Or improperly store your fresh fruits and vegetables in lesser known ways, such as:
    1. always store your fruits and vegetables separately: it not only is more orderly, but vegetables will actually age much slower when they aren’t exposed to the ethylene that fruits give off when aging (which causes them to age faster)
    2. wash and trim your vegetables before putting them in the fridge: take the rubber band off of them as well.
    3. store your leafy greens in ziploc’s with paper towels: this is a trick I learned from my grandmother, things like lettuce will stay for sometimes a week longer before wilting, I think because it helps keep the moisture in the food.
    4. don’t put banana’s in the fridge: I didn’t know that people did this, but it dries them out very fast.
  3. Buy a food processor or blender: Food processors and blenders are probably the way I save the most food from it’s garbage destiny. Fresh vegetables and fruits that look wilted, deteriorated, bruised, etc. have no physical appearance when you tear them up in a blender and put them in a smoothie. Or rip up the sad celery, the browned cauliflower, the weird broccoli in a food processor and put it in a hash, a stir fry or a soup. A lot of the reason that we throw these foods away is because they look weird, and we’re used to our food being pristine, our apples being robust and smooth, our bananas being a perfect golden yellow. If you tear them to shreds with a blade, you and your roommates will be none the wiser.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference these 3 practices alone make. These bullet points, like all of the Baby Steps we give on this site, are really just part of a larger consciousness that we hope to instill in our readers. Reduction of food waste is just a small portion of a potentially huge impact a single person can have on the environment around them. Even just being aware of how much food is being wasted currently is already a step in the right direction.

The inside look at Natural Grocers

By Wilson McNeary

Natural Grocers is much bigger than any other organic food spaces in Columbia, with the exception perhaps of the larger Clover's. This leaves plenty of room for options and brands you can't find elsewhere in town.

Natural Grocers, located at 400 N. Stadium Blvd. (out by the Hobby Lobby), is a brand new grocery store specializing in natural and organic foods.  Although it is part of a larger chain, with stores mostly in Colorado and other nearby western states, this is its first location in Missouri.  According to its mission statement, the grocers “sell only safe, quality products at prices the average family can afford.”

The business also claims to sell only natural and organic products; its definition of organic being USDA Certified Organic and natural being “[the products] don’t contain artificial ingredients used to color, preserve, dye, emulsify, stabilize, or solidify them.”

I was, of course, very encouraged by these statements before even setting foot in the store; however, I was rather skeptical of what the prices might be like.  After all, higher quality food is almost always more expensive than its typical grocery store counterpart, sometimes to the point of being impractical for your typical college student.

The first thing one will encounter when walking into the store is a sign on the door that says “B.Y.O.B.-Bring Your Own Bag”.  Every Natural Grocers store has eliminated the use of both paper and plastic disposable bags, though they save the boxes their products are delivered in just in case someone forgets.

Organic fruit and vegetables is a little more expensive than the regular grocery store, but Natural Grocers also runs produce specials.

The interior of the store itself is laid out similar to most typical small groceries stores: produce, dry goods, frozen foods, dairy and the like.  It is when one begins to closely look at the products on the shelves that they notice the difference:

  • There are great deals of gluten-free and vegan options in the dry goods section.
  • The frozen foods consist not only of naturally-raised meat, but also many vegetarian and vegan alternatives.
  • The dairy has a wide range of milk and yogurt that is split between many different sources, such as cow, goat, soy, and almond.

If any are familiar with the Health Market section of the local Hy-Vee stores, the types of products sold at Natural Grocers are very similar to those available at Health Market, though Natural Grocers has a much wider selection. Natural Grocers also has a very extensive vitamin and nutritional supplement section.

With raspberries on sale for $2.49 and an avacado on sale for $1, these three items rang up for under $10. Natural Grocers offers "Hot Line" items every week.

During my trip to this store, I was in need of a few basic groceries; I bought 2 bags of Beanitos chips (which I had never eaten before, but turned out to be delicious), 3 Annie Chun’s noodle bowls, 3 cups of Cascade Fresh yogurt, and 1 box of Nature’s Path organic toaster pastries and managed to get out of the store without paying over $20.  I found this to be a very reasonable price considering the quality of food I was buying.

In summary, I was very impressed with the extensive selection in Natural Grocers, as well as the way they seem to put their morals into their business practices.  Most of all, however, I was impressed with the prices in the store.  Though there may be some initial sticker shock for those accustomed to living off of Bagel Bites and other cheap microwavables in their dorm, I feel that the prices are reasonable enough that the average college student could go to Natural Grocers on a semi-regular basis and sneak at least a little bit of healthy, natural food into their diet.  I certainly won’t be able to do absolutely all of my grocery shopping there, but it’s certainly a start for those wishing to go beyond the Health Market at Hy-Vee.

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For more info on Natural Grocers’ business practices and products, visit the website: http://www.naturalgrocers.com.