Did you know:
According to the USDA, the average American throws away over 200 pounds of edible food every year. Yes, I said 200 pounds.
The USDA also reports that over 13 million children under the age of 18 live in households where they are unable to consistently have access to nutritious food.
Think about those numbers for a minute. 13 million children in the US have difficulty obtaining healthy food. 13 million. After contemplating that statistic for a minute, I literally teared up. If you have even 1 drop of empathy in you, I imagine you did too.
If each of us found a way to stop wasting 200 pounds of food it seems logical that some of what we no longer need to buy (because of our decreased waste) might go to good use in these underfed households.
Food is a basic human right, a necessity. It is life. I think we can all take steps to stop wasting it, to stop tossing it in the trash. I know I used to buy fresh fruit and would often end up tossing it because I didn’t eat it before it spoiled. Same goes for vegetables, especially lettuce. You know when you have every intention of eating salad for dinner but then life gets in the way and you order take out instead?
When I bought my house 12 years ago, yes the same house that became my biggest money mistake, the town was giving away free composters to anyone who wanted one. I love anything free so I grabbed one and set it up in the yard. I happily tossed in my food scraps and used the compost on my garden.
Mother Fran has a big compost area at the cottage and all of our food scraps get tossed in so her flowers have an unending supply of fresh compost to keep them growing. I have memories of her digging her coffee grounds into the dirt around her house in Florida to help her plants grow!
Composting is a great way to keep food from ending up in the trash. It still doesn’t get eaten but at least it breaks down into fresh dirt that can be used to grow more food. I live in suburbia now and still have 2 composters going in my yard. In the fall, I empty them into the garden and turn the soil to help my spring plants grow.
My town also has a Food Scrap Recycling Program that provides and indoor bucket with biodegradable bags that when filled are placed in the outdoor bucket. Once per week we drop bring it to one of several locations and drop off the contents and pick up more bags. No food waste in our household.
I think both of these options are awesome but they don’t actually get the food into any ones stomach. For that miracle to happen we have to think like Mother Fran or my Dad (or most folks from their generation).
My parents raised 9 kids and believe me food was never wasted. Mom would save the vegetable broth and bones to make soup stock. She would put in a plastic pitcher in the fridge until she was ready to make soup. On more than one occasion I took a big ole swig of that liquid thinking it was orange juice or iced tea. It tasted awful but the soup was always great.
I find myself saving bones and the water I cooked my vegetables in to make soup stock. When veggies are looking a bit past their prime, that is the perfect time to make soup! The thought of throwing away cauliflower or broccoli because it is a little wilted makes me sad. I can find a way to use it!
Mother Fran would find creative ways to use leftovers until every last morsel was put to good use. After Thanksgiving dinner everyone new to expect turkey in one form or another for the next few days!
When I was leaving Child #1’s house last week she asked me if I would wanted 3 overripe banana’s. I took them home, peeled them and wrapped them in Saran Wrap. They will be perfect in my morning smoothies or in banana bread.
A couple of years ago, Child #7 started a “garbage garden” at the cottage. She literally, cut the greens off of scallions and stuck the white onion part in a pot of dirt. They just continue to grow. How cool is that? I have the ends of 2 stalks of celery and 2 heads of lettuce rooting in some water on my counter. I want to plant them soon and they will grow (again)!
We are all different and can all think of creative ways to stop wasting food. It just seems so wasteful to throw away food that could be nourishing a child because we didn’t get around to eating it.
What creative steps will you take?