The Four Pounds of Cheese Project

7 08 2011

The Four Pounds of Cheese Project

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:

Monday


corn nuts

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.

Tuesday

Ate up some leftovers, no waste.  Hooray!

Wednesday

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.

cilantro and chives

Thursday

Found a tomato that was starting to go south.

mold!

Fortunately, I caught it in time and only had to throw away this much:

that's all!

The rest went into a simple pasta dish with zucchini and goat cheese.

Friday

Nothing!

Saturday

Again, nothing!

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.

only one slice...

Coming home and getting ready to cook, I found an onion tragedy in the cupboard.

more mold!

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.

that'll do!

And I didn’t do too badly, either.  I did have to throw away several of the outer layers, though.

garbage

And last but not least, the eponymous cheese.

munster

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.

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13 responses

7 08 2011
Jenni Field (@onlinepastrychf)

You did great, Camille! I’m so glad that you participated–as you said, it’s important on many levels. If you haven’t already, could you please post a link to this on the event page. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=223182634390091 I think w/about 50 participants, I want everyone to post to fb rather than sending links to me. Too many links! Which is exciting, but a Bit Much. :)

7 08 2011
Jenni Field (@onlinepastrychf)

Never mind:) I saw your post up on the event wall. You are The Best!

8 08 2011
Louise

That’s such a great concept. I know about the tremendous amounts of food we all waste of course, but hadn’t heard about this event. You did an amazing job of controlling the waste this week. I do try to be mindful, and often save my food scraps to give to my friend who has two chooks.

8 08 2011
Anna Johnston

Brilliant. Love that you did this. When I was in the kitchen, our chefs were constantly raving on about the most expensive thing in the kitchen is? Well, the answer is…. The bin. Love that you created out of what most would say is waste. :)

8 08 2011
gwynridenhour

Congrats Camille, from a fellow Four Pounds participant. Loved reading your post!

8 08 2011
Hannah

Fascinating and inspiring, Camille! I try to be good with food waste, but do need to be a bit more diligent, particularly with fresh herbs which always seem to go iffy before I finish the bunch :(

P.S. I so would’ve eaten your corn nut remnants :D

9 08 2011
croquecamille

Jenni – I’m glad I participated, too. Thanks for organizing!

Louise – I think as long as you’re aware, and making an effort not to waste food, it makes a huge difference!

Anna – True that!

gwyn – Thanks! Heading over to read yours now.

Hannah – Fresh herbs are one of the toughest challenges, for sure.

10 08 2011
Jessica

There was barely any waste-age! You’re such a better world citizen than I am. Sadly, I’m a bit embarrassed to even start photographing how much I throw out. I should really start to crack a whip on that.

13 08 2011
croquecamille

Jessica – Maybe you should photograph it. You don’t necessarily have to publish the photos, but I was surprised at how much the shame of photographing wasted food made me think twice before throwing something away.

14 08 2011
Tammy

Love this challenge Camille! I think it’s an important thing to remember and to educate others on.

15 08 2011
croquecamille

Tammy – I agree. I’m certainly more aware of what I’m throwing away now than I was before.

17 08 2011
Tori @eat-tori

Fantastic. God, it’s scary what goes past its prime if you don’t rotate stuff in the fridge properly. I’m always turning to green herb slurries like chimichurri to use up some scary relics of herbs that are wasting away. If only you could buy herbs like flowers, picking a few stems of this and a few stems of that to get the mix that you really want.

17 08 2011
croquecamille

Tori – In a perfect world, we’d all have the herbs we need growing in our gardens or windowboxes, that way we can do just what you suggest!




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