I have to admit it: I have an affliction. It’s an affliction that causes intolerance for waste and while I’m not sure where and when I became infected, I know it’s something I’m stuck with for life. I can imagine friends reading this and emphatically nodding their heads, happy that I have finally chosen a different platform other than their beleaguered ears to rant about the myriad evils of waste.
And you may roll your eyes all you want, dear readers, but the fact remains that we as a society are guilty of producing unprecedented quantities of waste.
Yes, I’m referring to the umpteenth plastic take-away container you brought home from the restaurant this week because you couldn’t finish your meal but forgot (because that’s a kinder word than “couldn’t be bothered”, isn’t it?) to bring your tupperware with you. We’re also equally guilty of wasting food that’s perfectly good to eat and would’ve been gobbled up by a family in Somalia in a New York second.
Think about it: perfectly good fruit and vegetables are routinely discarded even before they reach the grocery aisles simply because they’re bruised or imperfect. And the lucky ones that make the grade, and are purchased and taken home by you, say, still stand a very high chance of ending up uneaten in the dustbin because you didn’t use them before they spoilt. What that essentially means is that all the energy expended in growing said produce, from the time invested, to the cost of labour, packaging and transportation, would have been for naught. And while I understand that busy schedules demand that you shop for the week ahead for the convenience of always having something in the fridge, I’d like to suggest that a little forward planning goes a long way in alleviating, or at least reducing, wastage of food and hard-earned cash.
As a rule of thumb, I generally go to the market with a vague idea of what I’d like to cook for the week ahead. But even if I haven’t had the wherewithal to do so (which is often), I simply purchase what I like to call building block produce (ginger, onions, garlic, potatoes, avocados, tomatoes, chicken, and mince spring to mind) and which I know can be used multifariously to create any number of dishes, so that I have the flexibility of a creative meal, but with the added satisfaction of knowing nothing will be wasted.
I’ve also learned to buy less.
The building block produce form the cornerstone of the menu for the week but any extras can be purchased on the way home. I’ve also stopped buying herbs, not because I no longer use them, but because I’ve started to grow my own, on my little balcony, and I can honestly tell you the satisfaction and joy I glean from watching my little garden thrive is incomparable. Best of all, I merely need to head out to harvest what I need when I need it.
I know juices are all the rage now, but all I can focus on is how much of the fruit is wasted once you’ve squeezed all the liquid out of the poor orange.
I’m not advocating you go without, but why not consider smoothies instead? Not only will you consume the entire fruit, you’ll also be giving yourself the luxury of a frequent flyer ticket to Bog Land thanks to all the additional fibre you’ll be consuming. And because your smoothie contains a whole lot of goodness, the likelihood that you’ll get hungry quickly is also obviated. Ergo, in one fell swoop, you’ve managed not to waste produce, you’ve done your bowels and organs a huge favour, and you’re also likely to lose some weight in the process. Now if that’s not a win-win situation, then I don’t know what is.
Because, folks, we can bang on about eating organic food that’s sustainably grown all we want, but if said food gets thrown out without being consumed, then all the efforts to make them sustainable in the first place becomes a moot point, doesn’t it?
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