(Family Features) Food waste is a major issue that affects the environment, economy and food security. In fact, according to the National Resources Defense Council, American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy - the equivalent of about $1,500 wasted each year. As for the major causes of this food waste, the NDRC points to improper or suboptimal storage, poor visibility in refrigerators, partially used ingredients and misjudged food needs.
While the issue continues to grow, there are ways for everyone to address these causes and reverse the negative effects food waste has on the environment and the economy-and many people are already making small efforts to do so. According to Glad Food Protection's Fridge to Fork survey, 87 percent of Americans say they are taking steps to preserve their grocery store purchases, or are finding ways to prepare them for later consumption, helping reduce food waste in their homes.
With the coming of warmer temperatures, fresh ingredients will be in ample supply and proper food preparation and protection will be essential to keep fresh foods on the plate and out of the bin. Help combat food waste and keep your food fresher longer with these tips for properly storing your food the day you buy it:
* Whole watermelon should be left at room temperature until ripe then stored whole and uncovered in the refrigerator. Once cut, store cut watermelon halves or slices in a zippered plastic bag and refrigerate.
* Do not wash berries before storing. Place in a single layer in a shallow bowl or into the bottom of a large food protection container lined with paper towels. Cover with plastic wrap or seal the container tightly.
* Store whole heads of lettuce loosely wrapped in a zipper bag. Once cut, lettuce should be kept in a zipper bag or container. Add a lightly dampened paper towel to keep lettuce crisp.
* If still in the husk, refrigerate corn uncovered. Once the husk has been removed, wrap corn cobs tightly in plastic wrap before refrigerating. Raw or cooked kernels can be stored in containers, such as GladWare food protection containers.
* Place fresh whole broccoli heads in a large zipper bag, and poke several holes in the bag to allow ventilation. To store cut broccoli, remove the woody stems and cut the rest into florets. Soak in lightly salted water to remove dirt and grit, and dry thoroughly. Place into a storage container.
* Keep ground beef in its original packaging until ready to use. If opening before using, wrap meat or beef patties securely in plastic wrap. Ground beef should be used within 1-2 days.
* Wrap individual pieces of poultry in Glad ClingWrap, and place into a container or zipper bag. To prevent juices from leaking on other food, store poultry on the lowest refrigerator shelf. Poultry should be used within 1-2 days.
* Thoroughly remove excess moisture from fish with paper towels. Place fillets in a container lined with paper towels. If necessary, stack fillets between rows of paper towels. Cover with another paper towel and seal container. If possible, place storage container on a bed of crushed ice inside a larger container. Fish should be used within 2 days.
For more food prep and protection tips visit www.Glad.com.
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