Email insights: Ways to be less wasteful this Thanksgiving

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Americans eat … a lot.  And waste a lot of food, as well.

As the nation celebrates Thanksgiving, a holiday centered on food, a new email from Food Tank – the national food system think tank – reminds the public of the massive amounts food wasted in the U.S., nearly five tons between now and New Year’s Day.

Americans waste almost 34 tons of food annually, which author and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom says makes more than a moral issue; it’s an environmental issue.

“Resources go into growing our food, processing, shipping, cooling and cooking it,” said Bloom. “Our food waste could represent as much as six percent of U.S. energy consumption.”

However, Food Tank believes Thanksgiving does not have to be wasteful as they offer a list of ways to cut down on food consumption while still enjoying holiday favorites:

Open your refrigerator first. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests taking inventory of your refrigerator and pantry to see what you have already before heading out to the store.

Plan your menu and know your numbers. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, planning menus in advance can limit waste.

“Sell by” and “best by” dates aren’t chiseled in stone. These dates are guidelines. Some products may still be useful long after their expiration date.

Repurpose turkey giblets, stale bread, and other “waste.” The EPA suggests using parts of the bird that typically end up in the trash as an excellent way to pump up flavor while reducing waste in landfills.

Portion control. Using smaller plates and Love Food Hate Waste’s portion calculator can help in making the right amount whether you are cooking for two or 20 people.

Love your leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste provides recipes to creatively use leftovers. Cook once, eat twice.

Donate to the hungry. Find your local food bank, and donate excess or unused food to those in need.

Serve others.  Organizations use donated food to cook for communities in need in cities across the U.S. Gather friends or family members to multiply your efforts and reduce more waste.

Seek change. Encourage policy makers to create and foster a food system that serves consumer health and the environment. Improving labeling policies and practices can decrease confusion for consumers, leading to a reduction in food waste.

For more ways to be less wasteful while enjoying delicious food, visit and subscribe to the Food Tank website.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.