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Clifton: Use your food and avoid waste

In the grocery store, we pick up fresh vegetables to cook because they are healthier. We buy fresh vegetables to cook, but sometimes that does not always work. The fresh vegetables stay in our refrigerator for weeks. They become brown, black and rotten; they smell up our refrigerator. Our lettuce is turning brown because we did not eat it fast enough; this happens to me a lot. I purchase a head of lettuce and do not eat it fast enough, so it turns brown and wilts. What happens to the onions and potatoes? Well, they start to bud and grow little babies! What has happened? We have purchased food and wasted the food by not cooking it in the proper time.

Ways we can avoid this is by purchasing vegetables of all types – fresh, frozen, canned and dried. The reason for purchasing this way is that each vegetable has an expiration date, which the fresh would expire first. If that happens, we still have the canned, frozen and dried vegetables to eat and avoid the waste of having a lot of fresh vegetables that was not cooked in the allotted time.

Planning out our meals for the week can help us to avoid wasting food, and use all the food that we purchase. Leftovers are good and eating them keeps us from wasting food that was not eaten the night before.

Another way to avoid wasting food is to store our vegetables after we purchase them. Here are a couple of tips we can follow:

  • Wash vegetables when you are ready to eat them. If you eat lettuce every day, then wash and dry thoroughly before storing in the refrigerator.
  • Put the fresh vegetables where they are visible so that you do not forget about them.
  • Blanching your vegetables and freezing them can help in avoiding waste of your vegetables. To blanch vegetables, put them in boiling water for one to three minutes. Remove from boiling water, and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Chill, drain and air dry.

Cynthia Clifton is the general nutrition agent for the St. John the Baptist Parish extension office of the LSU Ag Center. She can be reached at cclifton@agcenter.lsu.edu.