A blog by ordinary people about living an extraordinary life

My eyes are wide open

Meg and I just watched The Big Waste, a FoodNetwork special about food waste in America.  I was amazed at how much completely edible food is thrown away every day by grocery stores, restaurants, food purveyors and farms.  The numbers are absolutely staggering.

  • 5 billion eggs are thrown away every year in America.
  • One of the chicken farms threw away 45 chickens that had been humanely slaughtered and prepared because the skin was cut or a wing may have been broken.
  • Consumers do not want to buy basil when it is picked late and gone to seed because the flavor is not as strong.
  • People won’t pick corn that was blown over by a hurricane but is completed safe.
  • Bakeries throw away flour that is not even used!
  • Restaurants and consumers like the center cut filets and ribs of fish and meat.  The ends of the cuts are usually tossed out, but they are perfectly suited for cooking and have some of the best flavor.
  • Tomatoes that have cracked skin have absorbed a lot of water.  People don’t buy these, but they might be the juiciest tomatoes out there.

How does this change my life?  And how could it change yours?

One thing I will certainly do is check the produce rack in the grocery store where the day old produce is found.  There is usually a pretty good discount on these items which are 100% OK to use for recipes.  I will also take stock of what I have on hand in the house before I rush out to the store to buy new produce.  I would challenge you to do the same.  I know that there is enough ingredients in my house on any day to make a meal.  I will not pick through produce in the store to find “the perfect one.”  Picking through the produce can cause bruises on other fruits and vegetables, and those in turn get removed by the store and discarded.

Finally, I will work as hard as I can to not throw away any food.  Meg and I already spend time each week preparing a menu to try to head to the grocery store (Market Basket in Reading, which is often a nightmare, but does have very fresh produce) so that we do not buy perishable foods that we won’t use.  I do the majority of my shopping in the outer layers of the grocery store (produce and dairy) and not very much processed food.  This means that most of what we buy has to be used within a week to 10 days so that it does not go bad.  Of course, after watching The Big Waste, there may be a slightly new definition for what has actually gone bad.

This really made me think about what I can do to help with this issue.  I am considering volunteering at a local farm to see how they deal with their waste and their produce sales, to see what they can do to reduce waste.  With so many people in need of food it is a shame to see so much food go to waste.  A lot of the issue is due to a lack of education.  Bobby Flay, one of the Food Network chefs on the show (and one I hope to see at the end of this month), even said to one of the meat purveyors that he should consider bringing in the chefs to talk to them about the “less than best” cuts of meat that they could use in their meals.

The special is set to run again later this week (check FoodNetwork), and I highly recommend you try to watch it.



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