Portion Control for a Greener World

By Lina Younes

As someone who has struggled with weight loss issues for most of my adult life, I am well aware of the importance of managing food portions. Even when I try to make myself believe that I am controlling the amount of food I’m eating by limiting my portion sizes, I’ve noticed that the scale never lies. When my servings become more generous, the weight on the scale inches up in the same proportion. So, have you thought about how managing food portions can lead to a healthier lifestyle AND to a healthier planet?

Let me explain.

Did you know that when we increase our food portions at home, at schools, and restaurants, in fact we are wasting a lot of food? In 2011, Americans threw away more than 36 million tons of food in 2011. Nintey-six percent of that wasted food ended up in landfills or incinerators around country. So what can we do to waste less food?

  • How about serving smaller portions or eating on smaller plates. Also, when you pause to think before you eat, you might realize you’re full and not go for the second serving.
  • Before you throw away fresh fruits and vegetables that you have in the refrigerator, why don’t you try new recipes? Have you thought of freezing fruits for use in making smoothies at a later date? You can also wash and freeze vegetables to use in stews for a future meal.
  • How about cutting up stale bread to make your own home-made croutons?
  • Have you thought about composting food scraps like potato peels, fruit waste, coffee grounds, egg shells, and old spices?

Earlier this summer, EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a collaborative effort called the US Food Waste Challenge  to raise awareness of the environmental and health issues created by food waste. Learn more about the program and see how you can become involved.

By taking simple steps to reduce food waste, you will save money from buying less food, conserve energy and natural resources, and, especially, lower your carbon footprint by reducing methane emissions that are produced in landfills during the decomposition of food waste. It seems like a green win-win for all involved.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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