The following information, which was recently shared by Worldwatch
Institute , got me thinking about gratitude
and how we honor and celebrate our many riches.

Rather than disrespectfully wasting the available abundance, what if we treated
food (and every thing we encounter) as the miraculous coming together
of many, many factors? What if we celebrated not by consuming more and
more, but by reining in overconsumption and wasting less and less?
What if we honored the work of those who grow and process the food we
eat? What if we appreciated the work of sun, soil, air, water, plants,
animals and life by not wasting it?

What if we gracefully encounter life as the blessing it is?

With gratitude for the cycles of life and death.


Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season

10 simple steps we all can take to help make this season
less wasteful and more plentiful
Washington, D.C.----The holiday season is a time for gifts,
decorations, and lots and lots of food. As a result, it's also a time
of spectacular amounts of waste. In the United States, we generate an
extra 5 million tons of household waste each year between Thanksgiving
and New Year's, including three times as much food waste as at other
times of the year. When our total food waste adds up to 34 million tons
each year, that equals a lot of food. With the holidays now upon us,
the Worldwatch Institute offers 10 simple steps we all can take to help
make this season less wasteful and more plentiful.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,
roughly one-third of all food produced for human
consumption----approximately 1.3 billion tons----is lost or wasted each
year. Consumers in developed countries such as the United States are
responsible for 222 million tons of this waste, or nearly the same
quantity of food as is produced in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

As Americans prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, here are 10
tips to help reduce the amount of food we waste:

Before the meal: Plan your menu and exactly how much food you'll need.

1. Be realistic: The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes
hosts to cook too much. Instead, plan out how much food you and your
guests will realistically need, and stock up accordingly. The Love Food
Hate Waste organization , which
focuses on sharing convenient tips for
reducing food waste, provides a handy "Perfect portions" planner to
calculate meal sizes for parties as well as everyday meals.

2. Plan ahead: Create a shopping list before heading to the farmers'
market or grocery store. Sticking to this list will reduce the risk of
impulse buys or buying unnecessary quantities, particularly since
stores typically use holiday sales to entice buyers into spending more.

During the meal: Control the amount on your plate to reduce the amount
in the garbage.

3. Go small: The season of indulgence often promotes plates piled high
with more food than can be eaten. Simple tricks of using smaller
serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the
amount left on plates. Guests can always take second (or third!)
servings if still hungry, and it is much easier (and hygienic) to use
leftovers from serving platters for future meals.

4. Encourage self-serve: Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing
what, and how much, they would like to eat. This helps to make meals
feel more familiar and also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on
guests' plates.

After the meal: Make the most out of leftovers.

5. Store leftovers safely: Properly storing our leftovers will preserve
them safely for future meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture
recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store
leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more
convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and
eventually wasted.

6. Compost food scraps: Instead of throwing out the vegetable peels,
eggshells, and other food scraps from making your meal, consider
composting them. Individual composting systems can be relatively easy
and inexpensive, and provide quality inputs for garden soils. In 2010,
San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass legislation
encouraging city-wide composting, and similar broader-scale food
composting approaches have been spreading since.

7. Create new meals: If composting is not an option for you, check out
Love Food Hate Waste's creative recipes to see if your food scraps can
be used for new meals. Vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses can be
easily boiled down for stock and soups, and bread crusts and ends can
be used to make tasty homemade croutons.

8. Donate excess: Food banks and shelters gladly welcome donations of
canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder
months. The charity group Feeding America partners
with over 200 local
food banks across the United States, supplying food to more than 37
million people each year. To find a food bank near you, visit the
organization's Food Bank Locator.

9. Support food-recovery programs: In some cases, food-recovery systems
will come to you to collect your excess. In New York City, City
Harvest, the world's first food-rescue organization, collects
approximately 28 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise
go to waste, providing groceries and meals for over 300,000 people.

Throughout the holiday season: Consider what you're giving.

10. Give gifts with thought: When giving food as a gift, avoid highly
perishable items and make an effort to select foods that you know the
recipient will enjoy rather than waste. The Rainforest Alliance , an
international nonprofit, works with farmers and producers in tropical
areas to ensure they are practicing environmentally sustainable and
socially just methods. The group's certified chocolates, coffee, and
teas are great gifts that have with long shelf-lives, and buying them
helps support businesses and individuals across the world.

As we sit down this week to give thanks for the people and things
around us, we must also recognize those who may not be so fortunate.
The food wasted in the United States each year is enough to satisfy the
hunger of the approximately 1 billion malnourished people worldwide,
according to Tristram Stuart , a food
waste expert and contributing
author to State of the World 2011. As we prepare for upcoming holiday
celebrations, the simple changes we make, such as using food
responsibly and donating excess to the hungry, can help make the
holiday season more plentiful and hunger-free for all.