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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

When I worked for an outdoor school program in Oregon, we taught sixth graders about aquatic life and geology, about botany and wild animals. We took them hiking and sang around the campfire. But after each day in the field ended, we taught them about food waste. It may have been the most important lesson of each week.

At each meal, we told students that they should only take what they would really eat from the communal serving dishes. You can always take seconds, we reminded them. Anything left on the serving plates could be reused, either incorporated into a future recipe or served as a late-night snack for staff. But once it was on somebody's personal plate, it either got eaten or became compost.

David Biello recently wrote in Scientific American that Americans waste over a quarter of all of our food.

It takes about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to grow, harvest, preserve, package and transport the U.S. food supply. So wasting food means wasting energy. How much? A study published in this month's issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology found out: roughly 350 million barrels of oil.

I can't decide if this makes me angry or sad or both. Serious Eaters: what efforts can we make to reduce food waste at home?

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