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My husband just exclaimed moments ago, that he had (by sending me a link to a blog devoted to the issue of wasted food) launched me in a whole new direction! To which I replied "you've always been my best teacher!"
What he says is true in a certain way - I think you would have to be in complete isolation not to see the big picture. It's all over the papers, on television - Burma, China, Darfur - people starving, food prices on the rise, and yet here in the West, abundant wealth - despite gas prices climbing through the roof, we still spend way to much and still waste too much. It is frightening; I feel like we are teetering on the edge of a full-blown societal collapse.
But I always calm myself down and take a look to see what can I do...and believe me, I don't look too far. The knowledge and support is out there. Last Sunday's Toronto Star had a cover story named 'Junked Food'. I won't give you the full run-down, but in a nutshell: the amount of food dumped last year in Toronto (by residential areas alone) was 210 million kilograms. A study done in the U.K. by a research group, WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) claims that less than 1/5 of the food was authentic scraps (bones, peelings etc); that 15% of the food was in the original wrapper, some thrown out before the 'use by' date.
A table within the article described the waste problem and then gave tips to avoid waste:
1. Stop doing your groceries once or every other week (we buy too much food and end up throwing it out as it rots in our refrigerators). I have always done my shopping this way but agree totally that this is a wasteful way of consuming.
2. At the table, we take too much food and then leave too many scraps on our plates.
3. Plan meals and purchase the ingredients for these planned meals (avoid impulse purchases).
4. Save leftovers (store them properly for another night's meal or lunches during the week). Much of the fruits we purchase will last longer (1 to 2 weeks) if stored in the crisper drawer in the fridge.
5. Freeze food purchases that you will not consume by the best before date.
6. Be brave - face what you have in the cupboard and refrigerator and prepare a meal! You can do it! It's only a matter of confidence.*
*The worst that can happen are complaints from the "peanut gallery" (does anyone use that phrase anymore?) and leftovers. But then, this means you have something that you can turn into a what is known, affectionately, as a "week's end soup". Who knows, the 'reincarnated' meal may taste great and get rave reviews. (Naturally, should the rave reviews be forthcoming, one must avoid the impulse to smile smugly and announce, what had just crossed their lips was the very same stuff, lovingly prepared 2 days ago, which had been the source of endless critiquing! Not that this has happened in my house. Noooo....never. Sorry....a little dry humour on my part.)
Be you a meat-eating carnivore or a strict vegan or somewhere in between, this waste issue is a responsibility that we must all share in. By addressing the causes, we can effect a change and in the process, become consumers with compassion - for the animals, human or otherwise and for our planet.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
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