Here's a question for my fellow Berkshire County residents: Do you consider yourself a "wasteful" person? By the way, before we get too deep into this, let's define the word "wasteful".

It means the act of buying and/or using things and then carelessly disposing of them. Simple, right? However, many of us are wasteful people without even realizing it. Think about it. How often do you waste money, food, or time? I know I'm often guilty of wasting my (or someone else's) time.

Would you believe me if I told you that when it comes to this particular item, Massachusetts households waste over $1,000 worth a year? $1,076 on average, to be exact.

What item am I referring to? FOOD. That's right. According to the communications agency Cherry Digital, Americans as a whole are pretty wasteful when it comes to food. Specifically, food that is close to or has gone past its expiration date.

Basically what it all comes down to is misunderstanding food labels. There are all sorts of confusion between "sell-by", "use-by", and "best-buy" dates on food labels. The sell-by date refers to the last date by which the product must be sold in a store.

Then there's the use-by date which refers to the last date the product will be at its peak quality. Depending on the food item in question, there may be a significant period between the sell-by and use-by dates.

Finally, there is the best-buy date which is usually the same as the use-by date. However, it's basically up to you, the consumer, to make that determination by checking out the product closely or by giving it the tried-and-true "sniff test" before eating it.

The national average for annual food waste was $907. That means that, at an annual average of $1,076, Massachusetts residents are among the most wasteful in the country! We're not the worst, though, by any means.

According to Cherry Digital, the most wasteful state when it comes to throwing away food is South Carolina with an annual average of $1,304.68. The least wasteful state foodwise is West Virginia with an annual average of just $404.90.

Cherry Digital provided plenty of handy-dandy tips on how to preserve your food longer and to be more resourceful with your food in general. Here are just a few tips that may help you out in the future:

  • Freeze your food right up till the use-by date and it will be good to eat months later.
  • Turn stale bread into breadcrumbs by tossing it into a food processor. You can even mix it with onions or herbs for a tasty stuffing.
  • Donate items that you may be close to tossing that aren't out of date yet to local food pantries. Just make sure you let them know which items are close to expiring. They will truly appreciate anything you can give them.

Thanks for the helpful advice, Cherry Digital. Visit their website here to check out more cool stuff.

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