Well, dear readers, some of you knew this was coming on New Year Day, perhaps even looked forward to it. On January 1, 2014 I made plan to record all the food I wasted for the entire year and report back today. I’m happy to say that I did better than I expected and better as the year progressed. Knowing that if I bought too much or just changed my mind about cooking what I had purchased I would have to fess up and would be embarrassed in front of myself and eventually in your eyes as well.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, we waste as much as 40% of the food we produce in this country. Some of that is what’s called field waste, the inevitable portion that doesn’t even get harvested. While we will never bring that number to zero, we can do far better than we do. In California, the US’ largest agricultural producer, the California Association of Food Banks started working with the Central Valley Growers Association over a decade ago to recover food that would rot and be plowed under. They have grown the effort to farms throughout the state and now about 20% of the food they distribute is fresh vegetables and fruit. Food Forward, an organization that was founded by volunteers, has recovered over 6.5 million pounds of food from backyard trees, small farms, and farmers’ markets. It’s astounding what we can do when we set our minds to it.
But, as individuals there is so much we can do. For starters, quit thinking that the date on a package means it will kill you that afternoon! In the spirit of continuing this effort, tonight, I chose my dinner based on what’s on hand and most needs to be cooked – Brussels sprouts, a few small potatoes and a handful of oyster mushrooms that I will dredge in flour and fry. Nothing fancy; just a way to pledge to the year ahead that I will go to my list even less often. It boggles my mind that the average American consumer discards as much as 20 pounds of food EACH MONTH!
Just like keeping a food diary can help one lose weight, keeping a food waste diary can help us become better consumers.
So here it is with occasional notes:
- 2 pears that came as gifts
- Half a bunch of radishes
- A small pear
- A Meyer lemon
- 1/2 a 1 cup yogurt which went moldy
- about a cup of quinoa salad
- 1 oz feta cheese
- 1” piece of ginger root
- Beet greens that could have been cooked
- 1 cup of soggy Greek salad
- 1/2 a carton of almond milk that went moldy
- a small lemon
- some 5 year old cocoa nibs
- A small serving of fried rice
- About a cup of soggy pre-dressed salad
- A cup of tomato juice that went moldy
- 2 oz chèvre
- 3 cups of almond milk! buy small boxes from now on
- 2 eggs purchased early for Passover so they would peel. I threw them away when they were just too old
- A lemon that went green and fuzzy
- 2 small yellow squash that I didn’t get around to cooking
- A beautiful farmers market tomato that was liquid inside its skin
- A failed rice pudding experiment to use up a young coconut and some leftover rice
- Letting go of items in the refrigerator or freezer that had stuck around far too long – citron syrup from candying, bread for bread crumbs, one gigantic matzo ball that wasn’t very good
- 4 slices of moldy bread
- About 1/4 of a bunch of dill – give away half of every bunch; dill goes slimy too fast!
- 1/4 lb fresh pasta that went fuzzy
- 2 pitas
- One pickled cherry pepper
- 1/2 head of romaine
- Box of shelf stable whipping cream waaaaay past code
- Another tomato that was liquid inside its skin
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 2 frozen crepes that were freezer burned beyond use
- 1 cup of quinoa salad
- 1” nub of fresh ginger that I tried to root which didn’t
- A satsuma because I got too excited and bought too many
- Red onion that sprouted to far to save
- 2 more satsumas…
- A quarter of a delicious sandwich because we just ordered too much (but it WAS delicious!)
- About an ounce of fontina cheese because I neither rewrapped it in more breathable paper nor used it soon enough
A doctor once said to me that cardio-vascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. He then asked if I really wanted to be “average”. There are so many ways that we can do better than average!
This be-a-utiful almond/cashew milk cappuccino – I didn’t waste a drop!
Happy New Year to you all – Onward into 2015!!