Truth time: I have probably thrown away more avocados than I have actually eaten.
They’re never ripe when I buy them. I bring them home and forget about them. The moment I remember, “Oh man, I have some delicious avocados I can eat today,” is usually when they’ve achieved peak mushiness.
Such is the modern condition.
Americans toss a lot of food every year. How much food? The U.S. Department of Agriculture says we trash a staggering 21 percent of what we buy. And including retail, that’s 36 pounds per person per month — billions of pounds each year, in other words. If that makes you feel gross on the inside, good. You deserve it, and so do I.
To that end, the agency — which partnered with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute — has developed FoodKeeper, an app for iPhone and Android that’s designed to let you know when your food is about to go bad. So if you like the federal government, but wish it would tell you when to eat your vegetables, then this app could be for you. (Thanks, Obama.)
I clicked around on it for a few minutes and plan to try it over the next week. So far, the coolest feature is the calendar sync, which will remind you when it’s time to eat that deer meat you froze.
Modern Farmer calls it “surprisingly slick.” Robin Shreeves at Mother Nature Network called its advice “confusing and incomplete and will likely leave consumers unsure and throwing away some foods before needed.”
This app could be useful if you’re the kind of person who forgets about the chicken in your fridge until the onset of that horrible, sour smell, or if you can’t remember which president was in office when you froze the marinara. It also tells you how to safely cook certain foods, which can be handy.
Of course, you could always just buy less food. Or plan your meals before buying groceries. Or better organize your pantry, kitchen or fridge, so it’s harder to lose track of things.
But this shiny new app is already built, so maybe just try this first.
Clarification: Technically, the USDA says that 36 pound-a-month figure includes all consumer and retail waste. A previous version of this post said it included only restaurants and consumer waste.