A while ago I noticed a slew of news articles about how much food is wasted…realizing that I’m part of the problem really hit me in the gut. I now feel especially guilty about bread crusts – I’d always thought of those tossed bits of bread as a way to reduce my carb intake.
But then I remembered that I actually have been doing a bit to reduce food waste – I love having leftovers for breakfast. I can’t claim to have initiated this habit in our household, although I’m the one to employ it more often now than originator R (he’s currently in a daily-bowl-of-steel-cut-oatmeal rut). Of course, my favored breakfast can’t be just anything…some variety of leftovers just don’t cut it (say, spicy chili, or for that matter, anything too spicy). Usually though, it’s truly exciting how good leftovers can be the morning after. If you can throw them in the frying pan with an egg or add them to a slice of toast (with the crusts), all the better.
This breakfast probably wasn’t always as odd as it might seem – people during most of time, & most places around the world, ate & eat whatever’s on hand, & probably felt/feel fortunate to have it. We’re so spoiled with our ubiquitous markets & ‘standard of living’ – not that it doesn’t come without a cost, but when it come to food & hunger, yes, we are spoiled. Like all the food we waste.
Some estimates put global food waste & food loss at about 1/3 of total global food production. This staggering statistic just overwhelms me – how can I possibly do anything about it? Well, doing something with those leftovers is something. Breakfast. Refrigerator meals (I know this doesn’t sound very appetizing & it’s definitely not something to advertise when you bring it to potluck, but these are those often terrific – well, not always – concoctions made from random stuff in the fridge). Composting (we have two bins but I haven’t gotten up the courage for worms yet – working on it!). The freezer! – geez, how lucky are we to have freezers & refrigerators…2013 even happens to be the 100th anniversary of the domestic version.
Right now I’m recovering from the stomach flu virus sweeping our area. I’ll spare you the details (you’re welcome), but I’m at that point where I’m recovered enough to be hungry, but not recovered enough to think it’s a good idea to eat. I will no doubt be famished tomorrow morning. I’ll be happy to scout out the fridge for suitable leftovers for breakfast. I’ll be happy that we have a refrigerator. I’ll be happy to not be hungry.
Maybe I’ll even look into that worm composter one of these days.
Worms sometimes just happen naturally in the compost bin. Someday you may find a batch of wiggling red worms in there and you’ll wonder where they came from. I think if you keep the compost nice and wet… like a wrung-out sponge… it may attract a lot of those critters that help to turn perfectly good food into compost.
Actually, my compost bin makes me feel less guilty about throwing away some food that’s started to wilt or spoil or turn moldy. At least it’s going to have a second life in my garden. It’s the same way I feel about broken dishes. I used to lament over the shards. Now I have a shopping bag full of them, saved for some day when I get ambitious enough for pique assiette — those mosaics you can make with broken dishes. So now, when I break a bowl or drop a dish, instead of crying over spilled china, I think, “Goodie! More stuff for my mosaics!”
So maybe that’s how you should feel about thrown-away food. If it goes into the compost bin, then no harm done. It will nourish the next generation of lettuce or tomatoes.
Hey… Don’t forget about those crust-eating left-over loving hens you have! They are one of the most effective and delightfully fun ways of ensuring nothing goes to waste in your household… And mine!
@ donna & nancy – thank you very much for the comments & reminders to appreciate the worms already enjoying life in my compost, my leftover-gobbling hens (well, right now one hen but at least her leftovers also contribute to the compost), & pique assiette, where the anticipation (if not the reality…am i the only one with piles of broken crockery sitting in the closet?) definitely mitigates the angst about breaking that cherished tea cup.
Whenever my aunt, who was a fabulous cook, would visit our house when we were kids, she’d always put last night’s dinner in a frying pan with eggs and call it egg-foo-young!
perfect! thanks dena!
Some fun ideas from your readers, Linda! Being a composter myself (and a vegetarian so no worries about any leftovers going into either the worm bin or the compost pile), I don’t do “waste” either.
It takes a lot of water and energy to grow and distribute food. Every time one buys too much and then has to figure out a way not to waste it, one inadvertently contributes to food waste, water waste and energy waste.
One fun way to individually reduce food waste is to buy less each week, incrementally of course, just as an experiment to see how much is truly needed for the week’s meals. And, of course, ordering only enough food at a restaurant that one can finish at that meal, sending all plates back to the kitchen empty with no waste! Asking for a take home box, even a biodegradable one, adds to one’s water and energy footprint. Since we order a la carte at about 50% of our restaurant meals, and tips are based on the check total, we always tip well so as not to cause the waitperson concern about our conservative ways!
no one has mentioned pigs yet! they & chickens are probably the original human waste composters. hard to keep pigs in town though, but hey nancy, how about newbigging??
Food waste is a real issue – both in terms of premarket and post consumer. I despise tossing it out unless it can go into the compost and make dirt!