Monday, April 12, 2010
Monday Musing- Waste Bothers Me
As someone who tries hard to save in any way I can, even resorting to extreme frugality, watching others being wasteful makes me cringe.
I see people taking too much cereal and pouring the unfinished food down the drain.
I watch people pouring large pots of chicken soup down the drain, scooping out the chunks of chicken, and chucking them into the dumpster.
I know that the butcher near me throws lots of usable meat scraps in the garbage.
Instead of seeing food, I am seeing money fill up that trash can. Part of me wants to shout "Hey wait! Don't throw out that stuff! I can use that!"
The other part of me recoils and says "Dude. Do you want them to think you're starving, like children in African slums? Keep quiet."
And then I usually say nothing, silently seething at all that good food being wasted.
I just silently list off all that I could be making with that food. How many meals just ended in the dumpster.
That chicken soup could have been eaten as is; it was perfectly good soup. Her kids were just bored with it, after having had it for many means. I could have used it instead of water in my rice; I could have used it in any recipe that calls for stock.
That chicken from the soup could have been repurposed for many uses, from stir fry to chicken pot pie to chicken moussaka to chicken salad. I can go on and on with this one for ages.
My dad would have used that soggy cereal and milk to make pancakes. But an even frugaller thing to do would have been to pour your child a smaller serving when you have repeat experience that your child's eyes are bigger than his stomach.
Those scraps that the butcher throws out? The bones and skins can be boiled to make chicken scrap soup. The fat and skin can be rendered; you'll end up with chicken fat to use in dishes and give it plenty of flavor minus the chemicals, as well as cracklings, the chicken version of pork rind chips.
In most situations I just keep quiet, watching the waste.
But in others, I do speak up, saving that food from the trash.
I'm still not fully comfortable with how far I'll go to get free food. I'll ask the butcher for the skin, fat and bones "for my cats", because I'm nervous about what he'll think of me if I tell him I want him to take that stuff out of the garbage for my family's consumption (its a garbage reserved for animal scraps only. I wash it very very well when I get home even so).
I got rotten vegetables from my local mom and pop's grocery. While I was picking up all these nasty vegetables, I made sure to talk out loud to myself about how this was "going to go for my compost pile"- which was the truth, by the way. I don't eat moldy vegetables. I just would rather build my compost pile with free icky vegetables than buy bags of ready compost.
But with that soup, soggy cereal, and soup chicken? I felt too embarrassed to say anything, because I was dealing with people who are part of my every day life, and I didn't want them to think I as actually starving. I am far from the point of digging in the dumpster for food scraps, yet perfectly good food being wasted ruffles my feathers. (Dumpster diving for non food items is definitely within my personal realm of possibility.)
What do you say or do when you see food being wasted? Would you ask to have it rather than let perfectly good food be thrown out? Do you clamp your hand over your mouth for the sake of keeping your reputation? Or does it not bug you to watch others waste food?