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Food Waste – The Experiment, Part 1

I try to be really conscious of the food coming and going out of my fridge. Even in college I would fret over the amount of food left on my friends’ trays in the cafeteria and always tried to set a good example. Take a little bit at a time so you don’t end up with lots of food you cannot finish on your plate – this seemed easy enough to achieve when the world is your smorgasbord in an all-you-can-eat cafeteria setting.

But things change when you are living alone and typically only have family sized options available to you in the grocery store (salad mixes, herbs, sometimes milk (outrage!), pre-packaged meats and cheeses).

I recently saw the film ‘Taste the Waste’ and though horrific, I was feeling pretty okay about myself after leaving the theater. Throughout the film I was trying to evaluate my place in the whole mix – am I complacent about my own waste? Do I encourage the worldwide epidemic? (Well…that’s harder to avoid, but there are a few things.)

Going to the grocery store with recipes in mind definitely helps me stick to my list, but sometimes I don’t want to. I want to rejoice in the splendor of possibility in the produce section! And sometimes – no matter how hard you plan, you DO decide to catch that movie at the last minute, or meet a friend for a drink (that turns into dinner), and you don’t have the chance to cook for a few evenings when you HAD planned for it.

If I see a vegetable looking sad that I had elaborate plans for, but no time to follow through, I’ll often throw it right in a pan and deal with making it more exciting after it’s already cooked (but really, do you need more than garlic and salt half the time?). Sometimes if I open my fridge to find leftovers that I’ve been neglecting, I’ll chuck it into the freezer to extend its life.

This isn’t a how-to on what exciting things to do to preserve food – there are plenty of people and websites better equipped to help you with that. This is actually the kick-off to the month that I will spend detailing the food I am throwing away – to look for trends – to see if I’m wasting far more than I realize. This will include food that I eat out as well as food at home.

After 3 days I have noted:

~2 tablespoons of heavy cream (the very bottom)

One sad, moldy boiling potato

‘In Excess’ Inspired Recipe, a very simple dish thrown together in 10 minutes (literally, TEN):

Newly purchased In the fridge,   questionable life remaining Additional   ingredients in house
Beets (roasted at home) Pesto 1/3 box rotini
Beet Greens Ricotta Minced garlic
1 green onion
  • Get that pasta in boiling water!
  • Sautee roasted beets and onion in olive oil for a few minutes at medium high heat
  • Add beet greens (still damp from rinsing) – stalks or no stalks, whatever you prefer
  • Sautee until the greens are becoming a bit wilted
  • Add a tablespoon of garlic, salt, pepper
  • Throw in pesto and ricotta (~1/8 pint pesto, 2 heaping spoonfuls of ricotta), turn heat town to low and mix together
  • Let it warm for a few minutes while the pasta is cooking
  • Strain pasta and throw it in the sauté pan – mix altogether

*If I were buying all of these things to start, I probably would have gone for some goat cheese, but ricotta was great in this – turns it into a creamier pesto without stealing the show.



One thought on “Food Waste – The Experiment, Part 1

  1. What a great exercise! I try to follow Clare’s advice, but admittedly I am a notoriously picky eater. I am fortunate enough to have a compost bin at home, so if any of my groceries become too icky to eat – I compost them! MOM’s Organic Market also accepts your “non-funky” (i.e. fresh, and hygenic…) compost at some of their locations.

    Posted by aalford1 | April 3, 2012, 3:16 pm

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