Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bad Sage Mommy! Bad!

According to this website, consumers "throw away about one-third of all the food they buy and at least half of this is food that could have been eaten."

Coincidentally, this happens to be my weekly cleaning out the fridge day, so I thought I would fess up. Here's what I'm throwing out:

  • 1 small tupperware container of leftover whole grain pasta
  • 1 medium tupperware container of curried lentils
  • half of a steamed artichoke
  • a small bowl of infant oatmeal that my baby didn't finish
  • a few moldy strawberries

plus...a tupperware container of cut-up fruit that fell on my foot and burst all over the floor while I was rifling through the refrigerator. Now I have to mop again .

This certainly is nowhere near one-third of the food I buy for my super-sized family, but if it wasn't spoiled, it would be enough to make a complete, protein-rich meal for a third world person.

Here's something I realized while I was cleaning out the refrigerator: some waste is almost inevitable, but the impact of that waste depends on what you buy in the first place. Those lentils were organic, vegan, grown fairly locally, and bought with zero packaging from a bulk bin at a local health food store. So a cup or two of them getting thrown out is nowhere near the waste of, say, a steak. Plus, vegetarian foods keep longer, so they had a longer lifespan in which to be cycled into a new meal before they had to be disposed of.

I think people who buy the more carbon-heavy foods with no thought toward wasted packaging or environmental impact are more likely to let things rot and throw them away. If you can afford to eat steak several times a week and you don't care about how it affects the planet, who cares whether it goes in your belly or the garbage can? On the other hand, people who conserve resources, even for purely economical reasons, will re-use everything and have no waste.

What are you throwing away today?