This week I’ve been participating in a food waste awareness event started by Jenni Field, also known as The Balanced Pastry Chef. It’s called The Four Pounds of Cheese Project, and she came up with the idea after reading a National Geographic article about how much food Americans throw away every year. In order to raise awareness about the vital issue of food waste, everyone participating has been photographing the food they throw away for a whole week.
I think it’s an important issue on many levels. On a social level, it is egregious that some of us have so much excess food that it goes to waste, while others are starving. On an economic level, with the uncertain state of things in many major world economies, it seems prudent to practice spending less money on food, especially that which we don’t need or will end up going to waste. On an environmental level, you have agribusiness continually trying to increase production by means of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, and other environmentally harmful practices. If we realize that we can’t eat five pounds of tomatoes before they go bad, for example, then we won’t buy the bulk-size bag, and if demand for massive amounts of harmfully-produced food decreases, then hopefully so will the use of environmentally damaging chemicals. Not to mention the landfill space issue with throwing away foods that cannot be (or aren’t) composted.
So without further ado, here’s what I wasted this week:
A handful of the dregs at the bottom of the bag of corn nuts. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat what was about 75% salt.
Ate up some leftovers, no waste. Hooray!
To go with some leftover Mexican food, I made guacamole. The two avocados probably wouldn’t have gone to waste, but I was glad to use them while they were nice and ripe, as opposed to on the edge of going bad. I did, however, have to throw away some sad-looking cilantro and chives.
Found a tomato that was starting to go south.
Fortunately, I caught it in time and only had to throw away this much:
The rest went into a simple pasta dish with zucchini and goat cheese.
Sunday (that would be today)
I sliced up some past-its-prime baguette to eat with cheese on the train out to the Château de Fontainebleau. Dropped a slice on the floor and accidentally kicked it. Trash.
Coming home and getting ready to cook, I found an onion tragedy in the cupboard.
Since it was after 2 pm on Sunday, getting new onions would be a Herculean task, so I set about to salvage what I could.
And I didn’t do too badly, either. I did have to throw away several of the outer layers, though.
And last but not least, the eponymous cheese.
This is a small wedge of munster, a highly aromatic cheese from Alsace. I think it was overripe when we got it, because the flavor was too pungent even for me, and I love me some stinky cheese. For comparison, it’s supposed to look like this. It’s actually not in the garbage yet, because I don’t want it stinking up the apartment, but we’re very unlikely to eat any more of it, and as soon as the garbage goes out, so will it. Sad.
So what did I waste this week? Not much, really. (Now if you want to talk about all the wasting of food that goes on in your average bakery, well, that’s a whole other post.) A few herbs, bits of bread, and moldy bits of vegetable. A lot of it could have been composted, but wasn’t, because even if I did find space for a vermicomposting setup in my tiny Parisian apartment, I would soon have way more compost than I could possibly use on my windowbox garden. It feels pretty good to know that I’m not habitually throwing away lots of perfectly good food (at home anyway, like I mentioned a minute ago, work is a completely different story), but I know I can still do better. Not letting my CSA lettuces go limp is sometimes a challenge, but I’m working on it. At least I think I’m on the right track.
Look for the roundup of all the Four Pounds of Cheese Project posts tomorrow on The Balanced Pastry Chef.
On this day in 2009: You Say Courgette, I Say Zucchini
Originally published on Croque-Camille.