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Fighting Food Waste

Updated: Oct 1, 2022


When I was in my twenties, I'd pick up broccoli or green peppers at the grocery because, as an adult, that's what I was supposed to be eating. Days later I'd find myself staring into the refrigerator for something to munch and discover those vegetables staring back. But they needed to be washed, peeled, or cooked. Or at that moment, they just didn't appeal. Perhaps a few days after that (read: a week), I'd note that the greens had softened or grown dark spots. Then I'd stop looking altogether—until days later a stench might catch my attention. I'd finally throw things out as it became clear that the vegetables had transformed into a slimy swamp monster lurking in the recesses of the produce bin.


I grew up with daily reminders not to throw away food, and I've gotten better over the years—perhaps due to the delayed effect of my mother's admonishments about wastage and starving children. My next strategy went something like this: 1. Put wilted food in a pot. 2. Add water and boil. 3. Simmer for 10 minutes. 4. Add salt. Voilà! Dinner was served.


Lee called this the garbage soup recipe. Often he refused to eat it and would only shake his head as he watched me plow through my concoction. (Lee and I had very different childhoods.) Over time, I got better about meal planning. Though sometimes I still might make a fresh recipe on Sunday, and if it's not gone by Tuesday, I use the leftovers as a basis for something "new." Lee is onto me with this trick, but he accepts it as an improvement over the garbage soup.

Since the pandemic food has taken up more space in my life. On most days I'm either shopping for it, researching choices, or preparing something that takes a bit of time. In fact, if I'm procrastinating a writing project, I'm probably thinking about food. And the impacts of our food choices do extend beyond our health as individuals. When it comes to carbon emissions, food is a biggie. According to New Scientist food production accounts for 37 percent of global carbon emissions.



One of my writer friends, June Fortunato, also has food fixations that have nothing to do with what she’s craving for dinner. She once informed a boyfriend that she refused to live with a man who wouldn't compost. Maybe she should sell that idea as a test for new relationships.


June shared some of her food hacks with me. "I always use stems and things like that and he (the boyfriend turned husband) started doing it to make soup. I go to markets that have dollar bags and process the produce immediately, often roasting it or freezing it.... (it's) usually tastier than the stuff that costs a fortune in the regular grocery stores."


The items she finds at her deeply-discounted grocer are close to the expiration date, but because she prepares them immediately, they don't go to waste. Additionally, June won’t eat red meat as cows are notorious methane production factories and require an intense investment of resources to produce a small amount of food.



Her latest discovery is something that herbivores and carnivores can get behind. She recently turned me on to an app called Flashfood. At first I thought that all of the food had been flash-frozen, but actually folks at Flashfood have found a way to use technology to move groceries quickly before they expire.



I downloaded the app and discovered that my local Giant has fire-sale prices on breads, produce, and meats. Each listing includes an expiration date. Everything from wild salmon to cookies is offered in attractive displays that remind us we’re helping the planet. I have specific days when I combine the grocery chore with other errands, so on my next shopping mission, I'll post my finds in the comment section. Also, if Flashfood doesn't have a location close to you, check out the link below for other options.


These days when I see a softening pepper in the refrigerator, the drumbeat of my mother's waste reminders comes back to me. (Even though I didn't listen at the time.) I'm happy to send up the message that I'm doing better with it these days.


What are your strategies for reducing waste in your life? Please share!


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9件のコメント


ゲスト
2022年10月25日

Exactly what would happen to me we’re I not Italian born and bred. My spaghetti or orecchiette do not spoil, my canned tomatoes ditto. Neither does salt or chili pepper. I hate boiled vegetables of any kind, but love fresh salads. I’m lucky to have a wonderful grocery strore on Bread Street, near me. Once I buy the greens, I’m committed to a salad for that day. The waste, I believe, is buying in bulk. Think about it this way: at a resta, does one order more than one can eat?

いいね!

ゲスト
2022年10月03日

Living on a farm, I have two options. If the fruits and veggies are mushy and over ripe, I can always give the chickens and pigs extra treats. It is important that I do not give them moldy food. I can also add the food to my compost pile and eventually use it to replenish the soil in my garden.


I also work at a school and unfortunately the food waste is ridiculous. I make it a habit to check in with the kitchen to see if they have food that they are throwing in the trash, that would be a wonderful little treat for my animals.


I suggest, if you have overripe food, not moldy, and you don’t compost,…

いいね!
dkane0819
dkane0819
2022年10月05日
返信先

Thank you! It sounds like an excellent circular system you have going. And yes, the food waste at schools in the US is really bad. (It's illegal to take it to give away because the schools don't want any legal responsibility if the food-handling is poor.) I love the idea of donating food scraps to folks who can use them for chickens and such. Good idea!

いいね!

Dawn, thanks for this informative blog post, especially the heads up on the Flashfood app. I've downloaded it. Maybe it will help reduce the plethora of science experiments that populate my fridge.

いいね!
dkane0819
dkane0819
2022年10月02日
返信先

Yay! This came to me from June, so she’s the brainchild behind this post. 😊

いいね!

ゲスト
2022年10月01日

When your mother and I were married TV dinners were a new thing. Have I told you that your mother would make her own - she would cook a turkey and cut it up and put it into the aluminum tray that she saved with vegetables and gravy freeze it/them.


I don't remember my mother urging me to eat food not to waste it. She mostly concentrated on trying to get me to mix the items on my plate together instead of one at a time (I would never do that, and still don't). My sister was a very picky eater and my mother would put three lima beans on her plate for her to eat. I don't remember tell…


いいね!
dkane0819
dkane0819
2022年10月01日
返信先

Lee would be exactly like Uncle Bob in that regard. I'm sorry that it's hard to eat these days. When Mom was sick and couldn't eat she apologized for forcing me to eat when I didn't want to. I was probably somewhere between Beth and Barb; there were so many things I wouldn't eat, but spaghetti without sauce was always perfect with a little butter and salt. Lettuce soup! I'm not sure I would try that one, but I think anything with peanutbutter has a chance. :) Anyway, I did not know that Mom made her own TV dinners! (You had me laughing so hard with that I was crying.) Clearly, I'm my mother's daughter. Thank you for sharing! ♥️

いいね!

ゲスト
2022年9月30日

Food waste is not a problem for me. It us only I to cook for, andctgeconlybtine it gets thrown out is when the vegetables get slimy. I am weary if cooking slimy food...I actually got sick....bad upset stomach and frequent runs to the bathroom....when I did what you did. Boil the slightly darkened and slimy vegetables and had a beef stew. Myvstonach did not appreciate that.

Maybe a outdoor compose would be a good idea. Or put the bad vegetables in a blender and use it as plant food for outside plants.

いいね!
dkane0819
dkane0819
2022年10月01日
返信先

Haha, as Lee will attest, I have an iron stomach. I do compost, I just try to eat it before the I have to feed it to the worms ;)

いいね!
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