Experts say food waste spikes over Thanksgiving weekend

Nov 23, 2021, 7:04 PM | Updated: Nov 24, 2021, 5:11 pm
Stock photo - Pexels...
Stock photo - Pexels

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns prepare for their Thanksgiving meals, food analysts are asking us to be more mindful of how much we waste.  They say Americans waste a lot more food than people may expect.

Analysts with the US Department of Agriculture estimate between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s total food supply ends up getting tossed in the garbage.  Utah State University Nutrition Department Assistant Professor Carrie Durward says the average American wastes about a pound of food every day.  That amount of waste adds up, quickly.

Durward said, “It’s over $1,300 a year that Americans spend on food that ends up being wasted.”

Durward is asking Utahns to rethink what they do with their Thanksgiving leftovers.  Normally, we keep them in the refrigerator for three or four days, then we throw out what we haven’t eaten.  She believes it may be a better idea to freeze them instead. That way they will last longer and making it so they can be used in other recipes. 

Researchers aren’t exactly certain how much food gets tossed over Thanksgiving weekend, but she says waste goes way up during this time of year.

“It’s a lot more food than we’re used to dealing with.  Because of that, a lot of it does end up getting wasted,” says Durward.

Rethinking what you cook

Other officials are asking Utahns to consider cooking less food than they’re planning.  Utah Food Bank President Ginette Bott says many people prepare large meals for large gatherings. But a lot of those canned and boxed items would better serve people by being donated to food pantries.

Bott said, “If you have unopened cans of product that you were planning to use, but you have too much, that’s a great way for you to share that for the next upcoming few weeks for people who will be struggling.”

She also says many companies are still donating frozen turkeys to families all over the state, although people receiving them don’t have any specific plans to use them.  Bott says food banks can take those turkeys, as long as they’re still frozen solid.

“It can’t be in a situation where it has started to thaw,” she said.

According to Bott, some food kitchens will take cooked turkey leftovers. However, people should call those kitchens first before donating perishable goods.


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