Baltimore County News
By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Communications Specialist, Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management
Americans are biting off more than we can chew.
Picture it: you bring groceries home from the store and prepare a family favorite for dinner – spaghetti and meatballs with salad and garlic bread. After eating, you all pitch in to clear the table, placing food scraps and maybe even some leftovers down the garbage disposal or in the trash. With everything put away and the counters and table shining clean, dinner is over, and you and your family settle in to watch an episode or two of your favorite show on Netflix. It’s a familiar scene, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Not even close.
So, what is the whole story? The story of our food is a complicated one involving a long, meandering journey from “farm to fork to landfill." In 2017, the Bureau of Solid Waste Management plans to explore this journey in a series of articles about food waste, food waste prevention and food recovery to help readers better understand the impact our daily food choices have on our families, our communities and our planet.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food makes up the largest percentage of waste that is buried in landfills or burned in incinerators, and more than 30 million tons of food are sent to landfills each year. In fact, 30 to 40 percent of the food produced annually in the U.S. is thrown away, which is more than 20 pounds per person, per month.
Think about it – what kinds of foods made up your 20 pounds last month? What foods are you actually eating, and what are you throwing away? How much are you throwing away, and how much did it cost? To reduce the amount of food we waste, we must first understand what we are wasting, why we’re wasting it, and how that waste affects us.
From farms to cafes to our kitchens, food waste happens in a variety of ways, such as:
- People prepare too much food for meals and throw out the leftovers;
- Food that was overcooked or badly prepared is thrown away;
- Diners over order at restaurants, or the portions are too large, and the leftovers are disposed of;
- “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are left to rot on farm fields or disposed of at grocery stores;
- Food goes “bad” before we’ve had a chance to eat it, or is disposed of due to confusing food date labeling.
Why does this matter? Food waste is costly. According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, food waste costs Americans $165 billion each year. That works out to approximately $529 per person. Food waste also harms the environment. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that food waste, if ranked among countries, would place third in total greenhouse gas emissions, after China and the United States. Lastly, food waste is a social problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that nearly 13 percent of U.S. households, or 42 million people, were food insecure in 2015.
Given the financial, environmental and social impacts of food waste, we all have a role to play in reducing the amount of food we throw away. Here are 10 tips to help you prevent food waste at home:
- Don’t over-serve at home, serve food on smaller plates, and eat your leftovers!
- Store food in the right places (pantry, refrigerator) and containers (freezer bags, airtight containers).
- Avoid kitchen clutter and keep food neat and visible; keep foods “first-in, first-out.”
- Regularly take inventory and note approaching expiration dates; plan meals using those items.
- Treat “sell by,” “best by,” and “use by” dates as guidelines only. The FDA actually permits stores to sell food past the “expiration date.” Remember, food date labels serve the retailer, not the consumer.
- Use soft produce in smoothies, soups and juices.
- Keep a food waste diary of the kinds of food you throw away, and why.
- As they say, beauty is only skin deep, so go ahead and buy that “ugly” produce.
- Use it up – cook with food scraps, such as meat trimmings and produce skins, peels, stems, and stalks.
It’s also important to talk to your family members about what they can do to prevent food waste at home, school and work.
In the next installment of our series about food waste, we will provide an overview of Maryland’s very first Food Recovery Summit, which brought together representatives from nonprofit organizations, local schools, environmental groups, the retail food industry, and local, state and federal governments to share ideas and best practices for reducing food waste in our state.
This article originally appeared in the Baltimore County Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s REsource Newsletter. To subscribe, visit our website.
County Executive says a clever slogan does not make it true
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz testified before the Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation on February 22 opposing repeal of the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016. His testimony is reprinted below:
I am Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive, speaking against SB 307. I speak not as the President of MACo but rather as the County Executive of the third largest county in the State, and a county that has 90% of the Baltimore Beltway within its borders.
A clever slogan – “Road Kill Bill” – does not make it true.
Nothing in the law keeps the Governor from building roads. The Governor is simply not telling the truth. And let me suggest why.
The Governor cut the Red Line, without public discussion or legislative input. He offered no Plan B, and the Baltimore region is still stuck in traffic. The Governor then diverted the money from the Red Line that was to be used for easing traffic congestion in the Baltimore region, to fund rural road projects that have significantly lower traffic counts. The Governor cut the tolls, but what he really cut was $54 million annually from the transportation budget. Now the Governor is facing a reduction in revenues due to the decrease of the price of gasoline.
Guess what? The impact of all of these decisions is that the Governor can’t fund major transportation projects that alleviate traffic congestion and promote economic development.
That, I suggest, is the real truth behind this clever slogan. We owe it to the public to have transparency in how and why we fund transportation projects.
Since 1976, Baltimore County’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has been dedicated to recognizing and preserving important structures that represent the diverse history of Baltimore County. With the assistance of citizens, numerous sites representing the important contributions of African Americans have been designated Baltimore County Landmarks. These unique places serve as physical reminders of the accomplishments of African American communities. This is especially important as many buildings associated with African American history have been lost before they could be discovered.
Landmark Lodge No. 40 Free and Accepted Masons
The Landmark Lodge No. 40 Free and Accepted Masons is located in the historic African American community of Winters Lane in Catonsville. Established in 1904, the lodge is affiliated with the historically significant “Prince Hall” Masonic organization and serves as a constituent Lodge of the Most Worshipful (M.W.) Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Maryland. The building was constructed ca. 1896 for Morning Star Baptist Church and acquired by the Lodge in 1931. There are many fraternal organizational buildings in Baltimore County still intact, but few survive in African American communities. As the only active chapter of Prince Hall Freemasons meeting in the County, the Lodge serves as a historic link to African American fraternal organizations in the United States and represents an important cultural aspect of African American life, both past and present.
The small historic African American community of Chattolanee is located along Greenspring Valley Road and immediately north of the railroad grade of what was the Greenspring Branch of the Western Maryland Railroad. Developed around the establishment of the Green Spring Church, the community dwellings, including the Hazel Thomas House, built ca. 1890, are simple examples of the Gothic Revival-style that survive to tell the story of this African American settlement.
Lutherville Colored School House
The historic community of Lutherville, best known for its collection of beautiful 19th century buildings, is also the home of The Lutherville Colored School House. Constructed ca. 1908, School No. 24, District 8, is one of the few surviving examples of school buildings constructed exclusively for African American children in Baltimore County. Although the State required Counties to provide teachers for African American children after the Civil War, most early schools shared space with other community activities. Built exclusively as a school, this sturdy building was lovingly restored and now serves as a museum dedicated to the history of African American education.
Worthington Slave Barracks
Located in Granite, the log and stone remains of the Worthington Slave Barracks survive as a physical reminder of slavery in Baltimore County. Associated with the Worthington family of Granite, Thomas Worthington and his heirs were once one of the largest land owners and slaveholders in Baltimore County, rivaled only by Charles Ridgely of Hampton. The Barracks are situated in the center of Thomas’s son Rezin Worthington’s 19th century landholdings, along with separate slave and family cemeteries.
Dowden Chapel and Cemetery
In the Perry Hall area of Baltimore County, the Dowden Chapel and Cemetery is a unique 19th century African American church that also served as a school. Deeded to five African-American Trustees by Nicholas Gatch in 1853, the intent was to expand the Methodist Episcopal Church’s strong presence in Baltimore County. The current Chapel presents a unique and distinctive representation of ecclesiastical architecture from the mid-19th century that has been largely unaltered since its original construction. The cemetery has many excellent and well-preserved examples of home crafted grave markers that demonstrate the considerable effort, artistic endeavor and skills of the African Americans who created them. Although the Chapel is no longer officially affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Trustees responsible for the care of the Chapel and cemetery still maintain the building and grounds for the use of its congregation. Once a year the Chapel is opened for a homecoming for its many generations of members.
Ernest Lyon Nursery School
The Ernest Lyon Nursery School building was constructed ca. 1945 on a dedicated lot within the Ernest Lyon Defense Housing Project in Turner Station. The project was developed under the Federal Works Administration to address the housing needs of defense workers who were employed at the Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point plant. Intended specifically for African American families, the complex and community buildings were designed by noted African American architect Hilyard R. Robinson, who was a pioneer in incorporating modern architectural styles into public housing projects. Robinson believed these well- designed buildings would improve the quality of life for African Americans. As war housing was being sold or demolished, the Federal government sold the building to the Turner Station Progressive Association in 1953. The building continued to serve the residents as a branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, a YMCA, and as a post for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The structure is an important surviving example of the childcare works completed under the Lanham Act, the first time government supported pre-school was subsidized for all children, regardless of race or financial need. It is the only surviving example in Baltimore County.
By Teri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner, Department of Planning
To learn more about Baltimore County Landmarks and Historic Districts, you can find us on the web at baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/planning/historic_preservation.
To learn more about visiting these sites, go to Baltimore County Tourism and Promotion www.enjoybaltimorecounty.com