Avoiding Food Waste this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday of abundance. Tables overflowing with turkey and tofurkey (for the weird cousins), grandma’s 20-ingredient stuffing, rolls and buns galore, that weird cranberry jello thing no one wants to touch, and at least, like, 10 different pies. Crowded around the table are family members of all shapes and sizes—some too small to reach the table or cut their own turkey, others so old bits of mashed potato blend into white beards. Among the family and the food is song, laughter, wine, and of course an argument or two (or ten) about politics with grandpa. Yet nothing is more abundant (as cheesy as it sounds) as the love in the room, family united by food for another year of giving thanks.

This abundance has only one foreseeable downside, other than jabbing fingers over the midterm results. Americans throw out on average 200 million pounds over turkey over Thanksgiving, along with millions more pounds of Thanksgiving fare and less-loved vegetables (or weird jello dishes). On Thanksgiving alone, Americans throw away $277 million worth of wholesome, delicious food; over the course of the entire year, that number reaches $165 billion, or close to $3,000 for the average family.

This is nothing less than a tragedy when one in eight Americans go hungry each day. This is an issue near and dear to the work we do here at Last Call, working with restaurants and grocery stores to ensure good food goes to those who need it, but what happens at the Thanksgiving table is ultimately up to you and your family. Here are some ideas for avoiding food waste this Thanksgiving you can share with the whole crew around the table:

  • Freeze leftovers! Freezing food can keep it good for months, saving it for when you’re next craving that turkey sandwich.
  • Spread the love! Send those sweet, mashed, and baked potatoes home with friends and family. While it is difficult to donate prepared food, there may be neighbors or friends in need who would love a fresh-baked casserole.
  • Use the Guest-Imator. This excellent tool helps you estimate the amount of food you need to prepare based on the number of people coming to your table (and the size of their appetite).
  • Create new, even better dishes with your leftovers. That weird jello thing has to have some use, right?

Using a few simple tricks and tools can massively cut down on the amount of food wasted over the holiday, and make more people (and the planet) happier in the process. If you have time, consider volunteering (preferably not on the actual holiday, as there is often an overabundance of volunteers) by delivering meals to people in need, working at a soup kitchen, or donating non-perishable items to your local food bank. There are many ways to give back, and give thanks, this Thanksgiving. Let’s all start by not wasting the abundance of food we put so much of our love into!

1776 Accelerator!

Last Call was recently accepted into the 1776 Accerlator Fall 2018 Cohort. We’re excited to work with such a fantastic group of people to refine our business and learn how we can best serve our community. Check out the video from our founders!

Last Call: Food Waste Ends Today

Last Call: Food Waste Ends Today

Nearly 40% of all food produced in America is wasted, while 49 million Americans are struggling to put food on the table. Worldwide, we are producing enough food to feed the world not once, not twice, but three times over. Still, one in ten people are malnourished globally, and their situations are only worsening as climate change exacerbates food insecurity around the world.

Food waste, food insecurity, and climate change are all intimately linked in our world today.

Overall, Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food every year, and food waste makes up 20% of our nation’s landfills. In these landfills alone, food waste emits more than 3.3 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent annually, largely in the form of methane, a gas 25-30 times more potent at warming our atmosphere than CO2. Put that in perspective: if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the US and China. In contrast, when we compost food, we are actually extracting CO2 from the atmosphere and creating a carbon sink in the soil. By all estimates, composting is a better use of food waste than sending it to landfill; however,  only 5% of food is composted annually in the United States.

While there are many overwhelming things happening in the environment that we can not control, we can control the amount of food we waste, and how we dispose of it. The best way an individual can reduce their food waste is by not wasting it in the first place: planning out meals and grocery store visits, organizing food in the fridge so food that will expire first is towards the front of the fridge, and buying frozen are all good ways to prevent food waste. What you cannot eat, try your best to donate: to friends, coworkers, or someone in need. Finally, what you cannot save, compost. Freeze food scraps or other unused goods until a weekend compost opens at your local farmers market, or look into university initiatives on composting.

Last Call is seeking to change many of these grim statistics, but we cannot do it alone. It’s time we all say, once and for all, that food waste cannot be an acceptable part of our culture anymore. With the planet under increasing stress from climate change, millions left underfed and undernourished, and increasingly vast amounts of waste in landfills, it is time we take a stand. This is Last Call.