Dakota Co. introduces challenge to combat food waste among residents

The Dakota County Food Waste Challenge asked participants to track the amount of food they wasted during the month of February. 

It challenged them to think about the food that they buy and the food they put into their refrigerators. It also challenged them to think about the food they throw out and waste.

40 percent: that’s how much edible food Americans waste. It’s a number that shocked Mackenzie Vanderbeek, so she wanted to be part of an effort to change it.

“When I heard about this challenge, I really wanted to join to see how much food are we wasting because I think when you throw away here and there you don’t really realize what it can add up to,” said Vanderbeek.

So she and her husband signed up for Dakota County’s Food Waste Challenge. A month-long effort to follow the food that could’ve been eaten but gets thrown out.

“Some of the big things were vegetables either that went bad before we could eat them or just didn’t have time since then, it’s been drastically reduced,” Vanderbeek said.

They tracked what they tossed and tried to change their ways with a better effort to meal plan and put more thought into what they bought.

“When we do want to make something that has maybe a unique ingredient, we find another recipe, if we don’t eat up, say, a whole cabbage, we find a second recipe to eat later that week,” Vanderbeek added.

Changes like that are the point of all of this. Jenny Kedward is an environmental specialist with Dakota County and she’s heading the Food Waste Challenge.

“We spend 20 percent of all of our water growing food that we don’t eat,” Kedward said. “Same with land and fuel and labor.”

While Kedward says composting is an option to help with the waste, it’s more about preventing it from the start.

“A lot of the environmental resources like water fuel transportation actually go into the front end of what we eat and if we don’t eat that food, we’re wasting all of those resources,” Kedward said.

Dakota County told FOX 9 they’ll be holding another Food Waste Challenge in June, but they say no matter where you live, we can all think a little bit more before we waste good food.