Do you routinely throw $5 bills away just for kicks? Probably not. And very few of us light candles with dollar bills, no matter how much we may have loved Scrooge McDuck.
But that’s basically what you’re doing whenever you go grocery shopping. According to a recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of the food that’s grown and sold in the United States is wasted—if we cut food waste by just a third, we could feed every hungry person in the country. That waste comes to the staggering cost of $2,275 per year, for a family of four. The biggest loss category? Fresh produce. Just 48 percent of what’s produced is eaten. The rest heads to landfills (or the compost pile).
Another report from the United Nations pointed the finger, in developed countries at least, squarely at grocery stores and consumers, in part because the former pushes “great bargains” that encourage the latter to buy more than they need.
The solution, though, isn’t cutting back on your fresh produce purchases. It’s getting smarter about how you shop. Rather than load up on bags and bags of spinach that will wilt before you get home, for instance, buy cabbage, which will keep in your fridge for months. Instead of buying grapes and kiwis and other delicate fruits that turn brown in days, buy apples, which will last for weeks.
(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how; get your copy today.)
We’ve compiled a list of the healthiest produce that lasts virtually forever, so you can cut down on waste and yet always have fresh veggies handy for a healthy dinner.