There’s something about the freshness of fall that makes us want to overhaul our kitchens.
Maybe it was watching those crunchy summer greens go limp in the vegetable drawer or the realization that last week’s molded sliced turkey won’t make it into this week’s lunch boxes. Let’s not even talk about the carton of milk that curdled in the fridge during back-to-back vacations last month.
Despite our best efforts, food still seems to go bad before our eyes. And we’re not alone. Americans waste nearly a pound of food per day on average, and a family of four spends about $1,500 a year on food they’ll end up tossing out.
A study in Oregon found that nearly three-quarters of food waste was edible at some point (it’s not all eggshells and chicken bones). Food that could have been eaten fills landfills, helping to make them the third-largest source of methane emissions from human-caused activities in the country.
But you’ve heard much of this before, and you’ve resolved to improve before, right?
When Alison Mountford founded Ends+Stems, a meal planning service aimed at reducing household food waste, she became a de facto priest for people’s food-waste confessions. Occasionally, someone would say they’ve got it handled.
“But far more common is the person who feels a little bit of shame,” says Mountford, who lives in San Francisco. They say “we waste so much food in my house, and I really just don’t know where to start.”
She was inspired to start her business in 2012 after learning, along with the rest of us, how deep America’s food waste problems ran. That’s when the Natural Resources Defense Council released a groundbreaking report (that’s since been updated) that 40 percent of food in America goes to waste. As a chef who learned the food-waste tricks of the trade over 15 years in restaurant kitchens, Mountford says, “I knew I had to use the skills I had to help people at home.”
Dana Gunders, the author of that NRDC report and of the “Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook,” has since started a business to help institutions and corporate clients such as Google…