Did you eat your crusts?

When I was a kid, if I pushed my food around and didn’t eat it, my parents used to tell me that there were children starving in Africa and I should be grateful and eat up.

Everyone in my generation got the same speech. Although most of us did think, at some point, “why can’t you just send my sandwich crusts to Africa, then?” we were taught to appreciate the food on our plates.

Today, the value of food has changed and sometimes we lose sight of how precious it can be.

Fast food provides us with low-cost meals, and the advent of “super-size” portions at low prices gave a new meaning to all-you-can-eat. (If you spend very little on a food or drink item, then you can care less about throwing away some of it.)

We are also used to all kinds of additional packaging for many foods, and even if we recycle it, we are still adding to the pile of waste. The work of processing or transforming all that we throw-out is growing, not decreasing.

We are aware of the problem, but we are not solving it fast enough to get ahead.

Now, I see articles all the time about food waste, and how we in the developed world manage to waste just as much food as most Third World countries.

They have waste because of lack of refrigeration and the difficulty of transporting perishable food over long distances.

We waste food because we forget it’s in the fridge or because it doesn’t look perfect enough. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like evolution to me.

As we enter the time of year when we are at our most decadent, I thought it prudent to put out a reminder to eat smart.

I’m not saying we should send our crusts to Africa, but we can be conscious of what we don’t consume. I’d like to offer a few suggestions on how to make the most of the food we have.

  • BUY SMART – it’s easy to get enticed at Costco or Walmart with the bulk prices on family or club-size packages. Do you really need that much? Are you truly saving money or just buying more? Large bags of fruits or veggies don’t keep you healthy if they end up in the compost or the garbage.
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE – make a list of what’s in the fridge, and plan to use it (especially leftovers) There is no need to buy another vegetable for dinner if you have one languishing in the crisper. If you have more leftovers than you can use right away, consider freezing them.
  • TRANSFORM RIPE FOOD – have some fruits or vegetables that are looking a bit limp or overripe? Make some soup or stew, chutney or compote – this breathes new life into the ingredients, so you can eat them a few days later.
  • WATCH YOUR PORTIONS – do you know the old saying, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach?” We shouldn’t stuff ourselves to clear a plate, rather we need to make sure we choose reasonable portions. Super-sizing is not always a good idea, and throwing out extra food or drink just because we can, that is the worst kind of indulgence.
  • USE A COMPOST INSTEAD OF GARBAGE – putting organic scraps into a compost bin allows the nutrients to return to the soil, and saves space in your garbage bin. (Worm farms do the same thing.)

The holiday season is about sharing. Perhaps if we think of sharing our food – all of it – that could be the best way to “pay it forward” and showcase our holiday spirit? We need to put more value on food waste to make avoiding it a priority.

I propose using the holiday vibes of generosity and good cheer as a kick-start.

Let’s get the whole family involved in treating food with more respect, in a positive way. Instead of scaring the kids with images of starving children elsewhere, how about patting them on the back when they grab leftovers as a snack or rescue a lost veggie from the back of the crisper?

I like to remind myself that I can always come back to the grocery store tomorrow or the next day, so do I really need a package of three cucumbers or a bag of apples?

Making an effort to waste less is not going to save any starving children. It does get us headed the right way down the road to living in a more sustainable fashion, though.

Perhaps that could help bring new ideas to other parts of the world. And it would save us money as well. If you can believe the statistics, an average of 20 per cent of food purchased is wasted.

If you spend $100 on groceries in a week, that means $20 goes in the garbage as food wasted. That’s a Christmas present (or donation) we just tossed away.

Food for thought, no?

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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