The garden is flourishing once again despite the weather and its seemingly ceaseless greyness this spring which led to a food conversation over Toree’s perfectly prepared English tea this morning. Although we compost our food scraps in our worm and compost bins and chicken coops it never ceases to amaze how much food is going out the door instead of in our stomachs. Granted, our ladies of the fowl in nature, do produce orange-yoked eggs for our consumption from some of those scraps and the compost is added to our vegetable gardens yet the act of disposing of food still strikes us as so wasteful.
In the spirit of our grandmothers and their depression-creative souls we have challenged one another to a summer of zero food waste including packaging. That means that anything that is still edible will be eaten in the home in some form. Stems, stale bread (the green stuff will still entertain the worm palate), cheese rinds, and all will somehow by integrated back into the kitchen menu. I have the cookbook that my great-grandmother Mamie gave to my grandmother in 1934 and another that was given to her for her marriage in 1944 with recipes such as apple griddle cakes and chocolate crunch cookies marked with notes. This cookbook also has the “Wartime Supplements” section in it that is absolutely fascintating, talk about creative cooking. What so many people have forgotten is that not only can a zero waste system be done but just 65 years ago it was how it was done everyday, just as “organic” gardening was a way of life prior to WWII, food responsibility was as well.
I am mindful of the things I purchase at stores, what they are packaged in, how they traveled, where they orginated from, and who they were distributed through. I am proudly, a food system geek. It isn’t neccessary to be a geek to shop differently though. All it takes is a little time to think about what is in your basket and where it will go on the next leg of its travels. There are three things that I try to really remember when purchasing food – 1) fresh trumps packaged, local trumps organic, organic trumps conventional 2) reduce, reuse, recycle is designed as a hierarchy with recycle as the last resort and 3) every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists today (and I won’t jump on my soapbox about health, pollution, and plastic). The bulk bags that have been used and reused will continue to be and the canvas and oilcloth bags that have been used since . . . I was a teen will continue to be as well.
Can we go the summer with zero food waste? We’ll give it a valiant effort. Join us in challenging yourself, if not to a zero food waste summer than to a reduced food waste summer. Buy locally, take your own bag, and explore the wonderful world of fresh produce, experiment with things you have never eaten before! Plant a salad garden on your patio, add thyme to nearly everything (you can never have enough thyme!) Enjoy the flavor of food again and find your creative side in the kitchen.