Is there one thing that you always seem to throw away? For my mother, it was cooked rice. She liked to have it on hand, but every few months she found a forgotten jar.
I have gone through stages of throwing out different things. The short answer to, “Why do we throw out food?” is that the food is spoiled. But it didn’t start out that way. Everytime we throw something away, it tells us something about our style of shopping, eating and cooking.
When there is an emergency or illness, food gets wasted despite our best efforts. But usually, we throw things out for one of three reasons: Denial, disorganization, and distaste.
We want to eat more fruits and vegetables (or we want our family to), but we haven’t figured out how to incorporate them into our menus. We virtuously buy them, but when it’s time to choose, the convenient cracker wins out over the unpeeled carrot.
This includes overestimating shopping and cooking quantities, losing track of items in the refrigerator, putting new foods in front of older items, and not taking inventory when making a shopping list or menu.
In our affluent culture, we have grown to expect perfection. “Leftovers” have a bad name, and we don’t tolerate a touch of brown on our fruit. But fruit is juiciest and sweetest just at the point where it is starting to get brown spots, and cooked foods are often tastier the next day. People don’t have a problem cooking a day or two in advance, but once food has been served it somehow becomes less appetizing.
The next time you find yourself throwing out food, take a moment to think about why you bought or prepared it.
What do you throw out? What changes have you made to prevent wasting food? Please share in the comments.
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