Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pictures of Garbage

Here are two half rotten tomatoes, basil leaves that had fallen to the ground in my garden from the cold and two packages of slightly moldy cheese. Cut out the bad spots, add one lump of homemade pizza dough and we are on our way to good eats!

Our entire project here at the Homestead has hinged on one basic tenant: How can we do it with what we've got?
I will be the first to admit that a great deal of the time we are talking about the Almighty $, but just as much of the time we are trying to use, use, reuse, recycle, repair and reinvent what we have. Garbage is a last resort.

We have consciously cultivated the reuse lifestyle over the years, partly because money was very tight and partly because it felt right. We wanted to be lower on the food (waste) chain. Our friends and family are mindful too but then the other day I read an article titled "From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can" in the New York Times. According to this article
, America wastes from 25% to 50% of all the food that is produced in the United States and that the average American household is responsible for 40% of that waste. We buy food, don't eat it, it molds or rots or just gets a little brown and then we throw it away.

I was shocked. Can that really be true?  I know we, Americans,  throw away a lot of garbage per person, but food? I felt very sad about it. I am looking very carefully at things I can change to make this less true for our household and our community.

The article cites some really interesting studies and several excellent ways of avoiding the problems that cause people to throw out food.

I have identified one place at home that we could use improvement: freezer contents. We are still trying to work out a system for it. We know we need to keep better track of things in the freezer and to be more organized about getting things out to thaw in time for dinner. Too often I tend to toss items in the freezer and then let them languish in the frosty dark corners until they are freezer-burnt. Not a lot, but I'd rather not have it happen at all.

a cabbage at it's prime

and then came the freeze

 no worries, I took off 5 or 6 leaves and voila a lovely cabbage to cook with a corned beef.

These are all scraps that go straight to the chickens (and a friends goat). Then they give us back eggs in exchange (the chickens not the goat). Times that I didn't have chickens I used to compost my scraps in the garden by just burying the scraps in the dirt all around the garden beds. The red worms ate the scraps and left pockets of lovely soil. A worm box could be another solution.

If anybody has a system that works for them let me know!  I'd be really grateful for any pointers especially on how to organize the freezer and keep track of it's contents.

 But I have to admit a few of us here at the Homestead wouldn't mind a little more food in the garbage. Please? 


  1. Aw, last photo is so cute!

    Phoebe, you are so right about having to work on a system for food storage and usage. The figures you quote are shocking. Our nation so takes food for granted. Fortunately I was raised by parents who frowned on waste. On the other hand, I've seen my MIL throw out huge amounts of food simply because they didn't want to eat leftovers.

    It's really great having livestock to help. Even if something does go beyond human edibility, I'm so glad to have chickens and goats to feed things to. And of course there's always the compost pile. Still, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility for what we produce.

  2. I love that last photo too. Not wasting food is something I have to work on because somehow I am always forgetting about something and...oops. Sigh. Least there is the compost and critters to feed it to.

  3. Many a head of lettuce has met an untimely end at a lost corner of our fridge. We had a better excuse with the dorm fridge .. now it's just a mix of poor planning and forgetfulness.

    Your pizza looks delicious. We are still working through the last of our summer tomatoes too, eating the ones that ripen and feeding the ones that go bad to the pigs.


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