February 27, 2015

Food Waste: February 27, 2015

Tomorrow is the last day of February.  I know this is not news to anyone (unless you were thinking this was a Leap Year, in which case: surprise!  You were wrong!) but I am nervously eyeing the next calendar month, mindful of my plan to stick to Motivation March.  This, naturally, led to me pondering junk food, and how hilarious this term is because everyone knows that junk is something you throw out, not into your body!

But we do throw out a lot of food in this country.  We ‘junk’ a lot of food.  Here in Nova Scotia, we are fortunate enough to have an awesome publicly-funded composting program.  This is wonderful, but much like the reduce, reuse, recycle of other stuff, compost should be the last choice.  Any farmer would be happy to tell you all about how it makes them cry real tears to see all the lovely food they laboured so hard to grow just turfed out to rot.  And they have a great point.

Solomon also had a great point, when we were grocery shopping together a year or so ago.

“So we chose the food we want and then give money for it, right?”

“Uh, yeah”

“So, really, we’re basically just eating money?”

“…”

Therefore, tonight I thought I would share 5 ways to waste less food!

1. Buy less food.  Seriously.  Buy what you need and not that 20lb bag of carrots that are on super-special and you know you’ll never get around to eating before they go bad.  As with de-cluttering, the first rule of avoiding waste is avoiding bringing it in in the first place.

2. Buy from someone you know.  Or at least from a farmers’ market (if you can).  Trust me when I say this ups the guilt quotient tremendously.  It’s quite something when your farmer friends come to your house and give you grief, personally, about the squash on the counter that you hadn’t eaten yet.  True story, I’m looking at you, Josh (and Trish, our lovely and wonderful friends who own and operate the fantastic CSA Taproot).

3. Plan ahead.  I’ve read all kinds of tips and pointers about this, all over the Internet, but they all boil down to that one simple point.   Maybe having a set number of meals you rotate through works for you. Maybe planning a week’s worth of meals works for you.  Maybe you live next to a market that is open everyday so you can plan meals on a daily basis.  Whatever works for you, just do it.

4. Eat your freaking leftovers.  This is a thing, people, there are actually people out there who believe leftovers are a category of food that is somehow less desirable than what the food was before it was magically transformed into leftovers.  I don’t know when this happens: if you get called to the phone during a meal and it cools off and you re-heat it, is it leftovers?  What about if you are pulling an all-nighter?  When does that chicken pot pie become leftovers?

Some of you will be saying “really? there are people who don’t eat leftovers?” and others will say “no, I will not eat leftovers and you can’t make me.”  Take a second and think about going to a restaurant and always ordering enough food for 2 or 3 people, and then throwing out the extra helpings.  What kind of moron would do that?  Many people say they don’t “like” leftovers.  This reminds me of my favourite joke I used to make when my sisters and I did dishes after supper:

Sister who is drying “Gross [slips dish back into dishwater] there is still crap on this!”

Me “you ate that crap for dinner!”

Leftovers are what they were before.  Isn’t that amazing?  Often, they are better than the day they were made.  If you don’t believe me, eat some leftover lasagna.  See?

If you are really, truly, never going to eat your leftovers, bring the leftovers to me. Or invite in someone who looks really hungry.

5. If you have kids, I have no advice.  Kids are notoriously picky unless they have the terribly bad luck of living in a country where obesity is not the problem, starvation is.  Keep portion sizes reasonable and get your farmer friends to harass them into eating more!  That’s all I’ve got.

Here are some real bits of advice: soup is a great place to put produce that is just on the brink of going bad. The freezer can be your friend: if you don’t want to eat the same dinner two days in a row, just freeze the leftovers and pretend it’s a whole new meal in a week! Produce that looks ugly tastes just as delicious as the pretty stuff.*

Day 120 Scorecard: 600 down, 1,225 to go

*or even better – that weird looking carrot is a heritage variety that didn’t ship well so it wasn’t bred to look a certain way, just grown because it has amazing flavour.

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