Friday, January 20, 2012

Food Essay Friday: Big Changes vs. Little Changes

Recently I discovered that the Food Network (we don't get cable so I have to learn these things through the grape vine) did a show called The Big Waste. I was kind of excited to hear about this show--chefs would be making a meal from foods that would otherwise be wasted. But then as I read more about the premise, I, well, I started to get bugged. The chefs job was to make a multi-course meal for 100 guests. So the food they'd be using wasn't going to be coming from the backs of their refrigerators. Instead they wandered about NYC, scrounging up food that otherwise would have been thrown out.

This is not a bad thing to think about or to watch. I mean, it's still kind of a cool idea. And yet. And yet. To me it still didn't really get to the heart of one of our main problems with food waste. The heart being the bit that starts at the home, the bit that starts in your own kitchen. If we as individuals can't possibly keep our refrigerators and pantries organized enough to not waste food (and if we ourselves aren't motivated enough to use some of that food), then how can we expect the huge monster of food industry to do much better.

And then I had a look at this article, which also expressed a bit of disappointment in the show. I always love a good dissenting opinion. Yet the solutions offered in this article were still so very very large scale.

Yeah, yeah, I get that the food industry wastes a lot more food than we do (grocery stores figure in something crazy like 12% of their money loss from food thrown out--and much of that tossed food is perfectly edible, but not perfectly perfect in appearance or past its sell by or whatever). I get that if we could change that, we could make this huge enormous country-wide change. It's just that sometimes the food industry seems so very very far out of our hands. And, frankly, sometimes the food industry is still so very very far out of our hands. I'm not saying we shouldn't work to change that through legislation and through our own food choices (using more local foods, etc. etc.) What I'm saying is that all those things are going to take time before they happen (if they happen). They're going to take a lot of effort and possibly a chunk of change. And then they'll still possibly happen with some red tape tied on, and then what... I don't know.

But I do know how to make a good soup from leftovers. And you can too. And it will only take your 15 minutes. And your reward will be a fabulous dinner tonight. (A little near-immediate gratification doesn't hurt, right?) I also know that if we don't care enough to make small, cheap changes in our own lives, it's going to be hard for us to care enough to shop at the farmer's market or write folks at congress about changing legislation on seed patenting or zoning laws.

So what do I want to see on the food network? I want to see a show where the chefs hop on over to their refrigerators and pull out 1/2 a chicken breast, 1/4 C peas, a stalk of broccoli, some chicken stock, and maybe a few other things hiding out in the back; a show where they hack that bruised bit off the apple and use the zest of a lime that's past its prime, but still good for something, and then they really make something amazing with it. In fact, I think it's such a dang good idea that I might even start doing it myself on this blog.

What do you think? Would you guys like to see a "Leftover Tuesday" where I scrounge through our refrigerator and freezer (and maybe throw in a few pantry staples) to make something really good and really cheap? 

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Definitely would love to see leftover recipes in your blog!

    My mom was the most frugal kind of cook. She really planned ahead to use those leftovers so they didn't get wasted. Taco meat was turned into chili. Leftover biscuits were split, buttered and placed in the broiler for breakfast. I think in our world of so many folks using processed, boxed, food, this art of re-using in the kitchen is being lost. I remember many a loaf of banana bread at home when mom said she had "some bananas going bad on the counter" and she had to make something out of them! I guess some folks would just toss them. Not us! One person's rotten banana (trash) is another person's banana bread (treasure) LOL!

    Bring on the recipes using leftovers, small pieces of fruit, etc. I'm always looking for inspiration!

    I'm with you. I would love to see the Food Network do some "real time" in the kitchen.



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