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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Waste Not: Food

Am I late to the party? Not surprising. The party I didn't know about concerns WASTING FOOD. This is not on the micro-level of family tales (there are starving children), but on the macro-level. Here is a piece by Jonathan Bloom on the topic (now we're all in the party).

Wow. So 40% of food produced in the United States is wasted. The author makes the point that, while we all talk about getting energy-efficient cars and so on, we don't talk about--or think about--the energy involved in getting food to us. Not to mention in packaging it.

Interestingly, we were the recipients of food largesse from some friends of Frugal Son: we received a giant bag of crawfish and a big bag of pecans. Both were "free" to those who gave them to us. And then we had "free" food.

Now that I've read the essay, I realize all the ways this most virtuous of food was not really free. Multiply by a zillion times and that's grocery food.

How do you feel about these findings?

I must say that I am feeling even more appreciative of my gifts.

Jonathan Bloom wrote a book!


Funny about Money said...

Grr...the link is busted.

But I think what you say has been true for a long's a figure I heard years ago. But the number that sticks in the increasingly unsticky synapses is 30%, so maybe things have gotten even worse over time.

Restaurants are not allowed to reuse food that was set out and not even touched. It just goes straight into the garbage, unless some less squeamish employee sneaks it out to her car.

Grocery stores routinely throw out produce after it's been on the shelf for a day or two -- it can be perfectly good, unblemished and fine, but into the garbage it goes.

And as for "day-old bread"...don't get me started! What on earth is the point of tossing bread that's been on the shelf longer than a couple of days? It sits on your counter or in your refrigerator for a week or so.

Then there's the way we prepare food. Argh! How much meat do you suppose is thrown out when a roast or steak is boned? And those fake baby carrots! Those are real, full-sized carrots that have been cut into pieces and then shaved to give them a uniform fake carrot appearance. There must be tons of carrot that goes into the landfill.

And the broccoli florets, for those who are too lazy to cut up broccoli stems or set them aside to make soup.

{sigh} It's too early in the morning to get this exercised. Think I'll go toast some ten-day-old bread and microwave a couple pieces of antique bacon.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Sorry. Fixed link. hmmmm now I want to write a series ons tale bread, a favorite ingredient.

Anonymous said...

Frugal--please DO a series on stale bread. I can think of several dishes that are actually better with stale bread: grilled cheese, french toast, bread pudding.

I was a single mother for many years and learned to not waste anything! Although, many years ago a friend from church watched me peel and cube a cantaloup. As I began to dispense with the rinds, she asked me if she could have them!? Don't have a clue what she might have done with them.

My current waste is due to still thinking that I'm cooking for a family...I'll get better at this.

Shelley said...

I did know about the waste problem, particularly about landfill (a hot issue in a country as tiny and populated as England, also tangential to my former career); restaurant wastage is a target of British dumpster divers. I appreciate the sentiment but feel a bit squeamish at that point, unless of course it was undamaged canned goods. Bill won't eat golden delicious apples as they are too perfect and he things the aethetic selection of fruit is scandalous. My worst sin is the second half of the cottage cheese that gets lost at the back of the fridge. Also, we sometimes buy more fruit and veg than we can actually eat. The fruit I toss in the freezer for later spice cake. The veg requires blanching, which is more time consuming. The rotten veg doesn't go in the garbage, though, it goes into the compost. Bits of bread go into a bag in the freezer as well for meatloaf and salmon puff and that mega darra (sp?) dish you told us about. Look forward to more stale bread uses!

Duchesse said...

So wrong I don't know where to begin. Here, restaurants can donate untouched food (such as sandwiches on a buffet table) to Second Harvest, which distributes them to shelters.

I can see why freegans are so committed.