Your Secret Weapon for Fighting Waste on World Food Day

Sam Naymark
Meal Kits and the Environment
Have you ever ordered take-out, only to feel guilty about the amount of plastic and paper packaging you threw into the garbage? Even when that stuff is recyclable and you’re careful, there’s a tremendous amount of plastic being produced and then tossed into the bin just for your ease-of-use lunch box, family dinner, or day-at-the-park picnic.

If you have, here’s some good news just in time for World Food Day 2019: meal kits and food delivery produce 33% less greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent dish when sourced from a grocery store. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization promotes healthy diets for healthy living overall, which in turn contributes to a healthier earth and environment for everyone, reducing world hunger. 

So, should your gaze linger on your meal kit’s package? Perhaps, but no need to feel bad. Learn a bit more about environment-friendly meal-kit diets, reduce your carbon footprint, and help feed the hungry. What’s better than that? It’s healthy and easy too! 

Meal Kits Reduce Food Waste

Agriculture and food corporation sales have a large cost for the world we love and live in. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American household wastes nearly 2 million calories of food, equal to about $1,500 every year, meaning that approximately one-third of the American food supply gets thrown into the garbage. This, at the same time that 72% of food banks feel as though they can’t adequately meet the needs of their communities without adjusting the amount of food distributed. Nearly 50 million live in food insecure households, meaning, they don’t have enough food to maintain physical health. 

With most people opting-out of meal kits citing the higher cost of meal delivery plans as the reason for not signing up or canceling their subscription, you have to wonder. How much wilted lettuce, sad old leftovers, and fuzzy fruit are those people buying, and tossing in the garbage? Some top meal delivery companies, like HelloFresh, make prevention of food waste part of its mission, publishing a yearly report about the sustainability impact of its products. 

When University of Michigan’s Professor Shelie Miller and PhD candidate Brent Heard ran the study finding that meal kits were actually better for the environment than grocery shopping for food, neither of them was surprised with the results. If you’re cooking at home, you may buy a whole jar of sauce, a package of fish, a head of garlic, and a whole lemon for a 2-person meal in which you’d use only half of that food. Perhaps you can save the garlic and the sauce, but the lemon and leftover fish may well sit in the fridge for a few days before getting tossed out. 

“We waste somewhere between 30-40% of the food we produce, which is just a mind-boggling number” says Mr. Heard, “This study really motivates the need to carefully consider the food we’re purchasing and how we’re using the food that we buy.” 

Consider this: reducing your food waste can help in the fight against climate change. The organic matter (that means food) that fills America’s landfills creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas that speeds up global warming. Meal kits? They just use less extra food you don’t need. 

Don’t Forget Transportation

Miller and Heard’s study examined the sustainability benefits beyond reducing food waste. It’s better for the environment to send a delivery truck on an optimized route with ice packed food than for a member of each family to drive to the grocery store alone, where the products are in giant electric fridges. The authors urge you to consider the greater impact of your diet and lifecycle of your entire diet, rather than simply the most noticeable aspects. While you drive to pick up food from Publix, think about the cost of that ride, both for the money you could spend to get prepared meal kits at your door, the time you spent getting to and from the shops, and the carbon-emissions you’re using to get there. 

Vegetarian? Vegan? You’re Ahead of the Rest

In 2010, beef alone was responsible for about a quarter of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Livestock currently eats over 1.5 billion tons of grains per year, food that could completely eradicate world hunger if we farmed it for human consumption. Meal delivery kits like Green Chef build special menus around this interest, taking plant-based and whole grain foods to a new level. Finding vegan and vegetarian foods in local grocery stores, restaurants and even family celebrations can be a struggle, making it harder to escape the environmental impact of meat production without paying an arm and a leg or bending over backwards. 

Plant-powered meals, like GreenChef’s Edamame Fritters, or HelloFresh’s Sweet Potato Pockets make it super easy, and come ready to cook or pre-prepared to your door. What could be better?  Best of all: the price is right at as low as $6.99 per serving. Kiss those greenhouse gasses goodbye and enjoy your legumes, without the sweat. 

Celebrate World Food Day

October 16 is coming up, and it’s time to share #WorldFoodDay with your friends and family. Share the World Food Day Video on Social Media. Tell your boss, schools and public institutions that it’s time for a change. Meal Delivery and sustainable eating is a start in healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger world, but the education only starts there. Explore the events you can attend, download a brochure or some activity books for the kids you love and start making steps towards healthier eating. Our actions are our future. 

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Sam Naymark
Sam Naymark is a marketing storyteller writing about business, tech, and everyday stories of regular folks. She loves city living, but dreams of spending all her free time in a canoe. She has studied literature, political science, and creative writing.