Friday, August 24, 2012

The Weekly Open Thread Asks, 'How Much Food Do You Waste?'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 5:14 AM

Your intrepid Bites correspondent, atop a tree he lost in 2009.
  • Your intrepid Bites correspondent, atop a tree he lost in 2009.
The thunderstorm a week ago Thursday provided more evidence that I'm not meant to have trees. I'd already lost a couple of very large trees a few years earlier (it cost $3,000 to clean up the mess), and lightning took down a large portion of a tree last week — right in front of my girlfriend Wendy's eyes, less than a minute after she'd let our four dogs in the house. The enormous limb took down our power lines, and it would be nearly 48 hours before NES hooked us up again. (I spent so much time on hold at NES that I started playing the insipid hold-music melody on my guitar as I waited, nearly prompting Wendy to take down one of my limbs.)

What does this have to do with food, you ask? Well, by the time we cleaned the spoiled food out of our refrigerator, it was clear much of it had gone bad long before the storm, and that we waste a shit-ton (which is slightly less than a metric ton) of food.

Yesterday, over at The New York Times' energy and environment blog Green, Kelly Slivka discussed the National Resources Defense Council report this week that Americans waste roughly 40 percent of our food. The report isn't just taking into account household waste — it factors in production waste, supermarket waste, distribution waste, etc. — but it's clear that most American households waste a ton of food.

We decided not to do the CSA this year because so much of it wound up going to waste. Our unpredictable schedules and busy lives made it so that we cooked much less than we wanted to. (Or at least, thought we wanted to. While I enjoy cooking, the time it takes with shopping, prep and cleaning frequently takes up most of the evening's free time. Wendy is a fine-art painter, I'm a musician, and we both work full-time jobs, so time is at a premium.)

I think we've come to terms with the fact that we're fine cooking one or two meals a week at home, and doing restaurant dining or takeout the rest of the time. Frankly, though cooking at home should be much less expensive, in our case, I don't think it actually is, because our noble cooking intentions often don't materialize, and food gets wasted.

Anyone else struggle with the same issues?

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