By Anne Goetze, RDN, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council
It’s fair time — the Oregon State Fair opens August 26th! Fairs are one of the times during the year that the whole community comes together to celebrate agriculture, youth and family. It is also a good time to consider how wellness relates to the food we choose and how that food is produced – where it comes from, what resources were used to produce it and how will it improve health and wellness in our community.
Honoring the harvest means using food for its highest purpose and moving nutrients through the food system – from people to animals, and back to the land to grow more food – instead of going to waste in a landfill.
Current projections are that the earth’s population will reach 9 billion by the year 2050. In order to feed that many people, food production will have to increase 60%. With Earth’s natural resources already stretched almost to their limits, it is very clear that some important choices will need to be made from farm to table and back again. One healthy choice that we can all make every day is reducing food waste.
Each year, somewhere between 30 and 40% of the food produced in the US is wasted. An American family of four throws away $1600 worth of food each year, all while one in seven Americans struggles with food insecurity. Food banks across the country recapture tons of food that might otherwise go to landfills or be left to rot on the vine or in the field.
The Oregon Food Bank is a model nationwide and Tillamook County Services works with 30 hunger-relief agencies and programs throughout the county. Last year 630,000 pounds of food were distributed to hungry families and individuals. Capturing nutritious foods and ensuring they are available for all is an important first step in honoring the harvest, and it is a meaningful way to improve health and wellness in Tillamook County.
While this important food recovery work continues, you can help, too. The simplest way to start is in your own home. It’s all about shopping thoughtfully and using the food you bring home, especially fresh foods, while they are still fresh. We’ve all been there with limp, lifeless vegetables that have been forgotten in the drawer or spectacular mold growing in some forgotten container in the fridge. Let’s resolve to do better.
What you can do to Honor the Harvest today and every day:
- Try these “5 Tips to Reduce Food Waste.”
- Support Oregon Food Bank – Tillamook County Services and hunger relief agencies in your local community.
- Read more about Honor the Harvest, National Dairy Council’s commitment to sustainable food systems and consider how you can help.