The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste. Fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, are at the top of the list of foods that are most likely to end up in the trash. Food that ends up in landfills releases methane, a gas that is harmful to the environment. Plus wasted food means wasted money.
Sustainability and global warming are top of mind in 2022, and many households resolve to waste less food in the new year. Household food waste is the last link in a farm-to-fork food chain that generates an estimated one pound of wasted food per person, per day! Food waste makes up approximately one-quarter of trash that is sent to landfills, according to November 2021 report by the US Department of Environmental Protection, From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste. Fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, are at the top of the list of foods that are most likely to end up in the trash. Food that ends up in landfills releases methane, a gas that is harmful to the environment. Plus wasted food means wasted money.
Growers of lettuce and greens are doing their part to cut waste. One of the biggest changes in the lettuce industry is the expanded use of greenhouses to grow lettuce and greens. Greenhouse cultivation nearly eliminates crop damage from Mother Nature - one way that food is wasted - because lettuce and greens are protected from heat, cold, heavy rain, wind, snow and other weather conditions. Specially-selected seed varieties grow greens that thrive in the greenhouse environment. Greenhouse lettuce and greens do not get bruised during harvesting and are 100% usable. According to a study by Santa Clara University, approximately one-third of farm grown crops are left in the field. Also, quick cooling after harvesting slows spoilage and extends shelf life. Revol Greens, a sustainable greenhouse grower of deliciously fresh and local lettuces, harvests and quickly packages its lettuce and greens into clamshell boxes and specially-designed bags that preserve freshness by allowing the lettuce and greens to breathe and shielding them from physical damage during shipping and handling. And because Revol Greens is located closer to the consumer across its four regional locations, lettuces are delivered to stores within 24 hours of harvesting, are fresher in the store and stay fresher longer at home.
Consumers can play an important role in cutting the amount of wasted food that ends up in landfills and compost piles too. First, try to coordinate your shopping list and your meal schedule for the week to plan to use up the perishable items that you buy, like fruits and vegetables. A package of greenhouse lettuce, for example, can last long enough for small salads for the week or larger salads for a few meals. Protect greens between the store and home by packing them in a grocery bag with other produce items. Keep them separate from foods that are very cold or very hot, frozen foods or prepared foods, to avoid damage caused by extremes in temperature. In the refrigerator, store greenhouse lettuce and greens in the vegetable drawer or on a shelf where they are easy to see and less likely to be forgotten. Avoid placing boxes and bags of greenhouse lettuce and greens at the back of the refrigerator where the temperature may be cold enough to freeze the lettuce. Remember that greenhouse lettuce and greens are grown in a clean, protected environment so no additional washing or rinsing is necessary - prewashing can speed up spoilage.
Add variety to the week by using greenhouse lettuce and greens in different ways. Include a side salad with dinner on one day and a main dish lunch salad of crisp lettuce and greens topped with protein, other vegetables, and even fruit or a grain the next day. Toss with your favorite salad dressing, go simple with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar, add a dollop of hummus, or top with Greek yogurt seasoned with fresh or dried herbs. Add great crunch to sandwiches and burgers with a layer of greenhouse lettuce. Use lettuce as the edible base for a scoop of tuna salad, egg salad, or potato salad. Enjoy, and see how quickly you can reduce the amount of food that goes into your trash!