Here’s another thing Amazon Alexa, that doyenne of home and hearth, can do: Cut down on food waste.
A new Alexa app (or skill, in Amazon parlance) aims to help consumers reduce the amount of food they throw out. Alexa, the smart software that runs the popular Amazon (amzn) Echo connected home devices, lets users ask about things like how to properly store veggies so they last longer, whether that avocado sitting on the sill is still edible, and more, according to foodie site GrubStreet. (Pro tip: Alexa may tell you to put that ripe avocado in the fridge to keep it fresh longer.)
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Some not-so-fun facts, according to Savethefood.com, which is promoting the new Alexa skill: A whopping 90% of Americans throw out food items way too soon, which means the average family of four wastes $1,500 worth of food per year. Last month, The Guardian estimated that half of all produce grown in the U.S. is thrown out yearly. These are shocking figures given food shortages around the world.
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Discarded food that is not composted also takes up space in landfills, which means that the water and energy used to grow, process, and ship it is wasted as well.
The good news is that awareness is on the rise. In Boston, for example, several chefs are pushing to make full use of plants and animals, using bits that might have been deep-sixed in the past. And more broadly, the “Ugly Food” movement promotes the idea that foods that might look flawed remain nutritious and taste good.