Thursday, December 2, 2010

Foods Worth Tossing- Zero Food Waste Challenge

Welcome to the Zero Food Waste Challenge, week 3! Hopefully we'll have some nice contributions this week, now that many people have looked into ways to use up those gigantic Thanksgiving turkeys.
The Zero Food Waste Challenge is a challenge I've thunk up as a way to encourage creative ways to prevent food from getting trashed, whether that means spoiled leftovers, half eaten food, or foods that you never knew you could eat before.

Foods Worth Throwing Out 

After a few weeks of these posts in addition to many other posts using foods that people generally throw out, you might be wondering- Penny, is there anything you actually feel is worth throwing out?
The answer- an absolute yes! Though I throw out less food than most, there are some foods that I will throw out. That's because I try to follow a certain set of guidelines when it comes to eating; I don't just put anything in my mouth.

Food should make your soul feel good.
I'm a big believer that your food, no matter how frugal, should be tasty! If you eat food that tastes nasty, or force your kids to eat that food, you'll just be causing psychological issues with food intake, and eating disorders are not something you want to bring upon yourself. By making delicious food, you're causing positive connotations with food, which is much less likely to cause emotional issues than by eating vile food.
No, this doesn't mean that food that isn't perfect gets dumped in my house. I first try to salvage foods that came out less than perfect (like if a food is too strongly flavored, it'll get diluted with bland food, and if its tasteless, more flavorings are added).
If a food isn't amazing but isn't terrible, I'll pair it up with a tastier food so I'm not eating a meal of blah. I'll also sometimes freeze it for days when I don't feel like cooking (and when you're ravenous, ANYTHING tastes much better!).
But on those rare occasions when food really flops and tastes bad enough to make eating it be an unpleasant experience, I will definitely chuck it.

Food should make your body feel good.
Food is meant to nourish your body, both emotionally (as above) and physically. But what is the point of nourishing your body, if, at the same time, you're ingesting foods that make you feel terrible? Foods that will be tossed here, as they are absolutely worth tossing are:
  • Foods that are hairy or otherwise moldy. There are specific strains of mold that are safe to eat, and there are certain ways of preparing food that take into account mold and such (like cheeses, rice wine, soy sauce, and miso). But when food that I hadn't intended to get moldy starts growing fuzz, it heads into the trash. My dad the doctor said that you can kill any harmful mold by cooking it really well, but I usually don't bother and will just chuck it.
  • Foods that upset your stomach. If I make food, and something about it really upset someone's stomach, I will toss it, no questions asked, and try to avoid making that type of food again. I made some soup the other day, and left it out overnight to cool. Spike and Mike both ate some, and they both didn't feel so great. (Spike threw up, Mike was just uncomfortable.) The soup still looked and smelled fine, and it could have been a bug and not food related, but since it was just the people who ate the food that had upset stomaches, I didn't want to chance it. The soup (fortunately it was just a little left) got tossed. 
  • Germs that can't be killed. No one in my immediate family will ever, ever, ever ingest any brains of any animals. Mad cow disease, kuru, and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease are all prions (proteinaceous infectious particle) which can't be destroyed by heat, and you get them by eating brains of infected animals (or your infected mother in law, in the case of kuru). Why do I know about all this? Because my world traveler cousin died of a prion- Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease to be exact. Which is why I don't care how "wasteful" you'd call me- no one in this family will ever be ingesting brains.
Food should be food, not chemicals. I'm trying my best to eliminate all chemicals from my diet and the diets of my kids and husband (don't worry, hubby is on board). While we're not 100% there yet, if I get a hold of some foods and read the ingredients and don't recognize a majority of them (or recognize them as being terrible for you), I don't have any problem tossing it in the trash. I may be tempted to eat it if it's a chocolate or if I'm feeling enough junk-food deprived, but it is definitely food worth tossing... because it can't really be defined as food! Gotta add that if a food touched a chemical, like bleach or anything else toxic, it gets tossed in the trash and not washed off in this house.

You'll notice that I said nothing about pesticides, and that I don't have a problem serving my family meals that are made with peels of non organic produce. Some of you might find these to be foods worth tossing, but I know that peels usually contain the highest amount of nutrition, along with the highest amount of pesticides. 

While I can't afford to buy organic, I do try to forage organics whenever I can and barter with people for their organic home grown foods, but that is limited. I wash my produce with lots of soap and water and vinegar and then rinse it really well... and then I'll use it, pesticide, nutrition, and all. For me, my thought process is that I'll be ingesting pesticides regardless, so I don't see the point in tossing out the nutritious peels. But I can understand those who feel otherwise and that non organic peels are a food worth tossing.

For those cases when food tossing is warranted, if you have a compost heap or animals to feed, that is a good final resting place for most of that unwanted and uneaten food.

Now it's your turn!
Please link up to the linky below, with any tips, ideas, recipes, or random thoughts that are somehow connected to reducing the amount of food you waste. You could also share the different ways that you prevented food waste this week. If you're not a blogger, feel free to share in the comments below

Why should you partake in this challenge?
A) Encouragement. It's much easier to do something when you're doing it as a group. By taking part in the challenge, you will be able to be a part of something "bigger", and get high fives from people who think what you're doing is awesome.
B) Pat yourself on the back. I bet you're already doing some things to save food from the trash and you're so proud of yourself. Instead of sharing your ideas with friends who may think you're a bit nuts, share it here so we can all give you a round of applause because we think you're awesome.
C) To get ideas how to prevent food wastage, and to give ideas to others.
D) To increase readership for your blog. If your post looks interesting, people will head over to your blog and might just stick around.
E) You'll get a comment from me on each post you link up.

What are the rules?
Follow blog etiquette and link back to me, please.
Please link to a specific post, not to your blog.
Family friendly content only.
Any post related to minimizing food wastage is fine, whether a recipe, musings, a list of what foods you've made from salvaged food, dumpster diving food, you name it. I'm not picky. It should just be at least remotely related to stopping to waste food though.
Feel free to grab my challenge button.

What foods do you feel are worth tossing? How did you help curb your food waste this week?

Linking up with Pennywise Platter Thursday and Fight Back Friday, and Food on Friday.

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