What a Waste


The article about moldy food that we ran a couple of weeks ago was made to order for my kitchen. My refrigerator has always been a harbor for mysterious mold crops. You’d think I would have seen every kind by now, but I am still startled and surprised by the sights I see inside the questionable containers found at the back of my refrigerator shelves. You know the kind, don’t you?

Even though I’ve promised my husband that I will use only see- through containers for now on to store leftovers, somehow those recycled margarine containers show up in the back of the fridge. With no label, the only clue to what’s inside is to dig them from behind all the other stuff and…lift the lids.

My molds have such amazing textures and hues; such quantities gone rampant from weeks of being allowed to sit untouched. (Oh, the shame!)

The question my family asks is why do I save these forgotten (and best forgotten) foods in the first place only to have to revisit them later in such unsavory circumstances. WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR ME TO THROW OUT FOOD?

No, I’m not seeing faces of starving, Third World children when I pack up theses edibles. I’m not even aware of which family member might eat at a future time whatever it is that I’m saving now. Something built into me says, “DON’T WASTE FOOD!”

When we used to carpool our kids to preschool, we parents occasionally took turns treating the kids’ to a fast food meal after school. I was the only mom who wrote the kids names on their bags of uneaten cheeseburgers and fries and dropped the leftovers off at home with the kids. Then I felt foolish for my trouble because the food was probably pitched once I had gone. It was a no-win, guilt situation.

I don’t like living with the idea that it’s ok for kids to buy a school lunch and throw half of it away. I don’t like to think that if a family doesn’t eat up a meal that was prepared some of it gets put down a disposer.

Maybe if I had a garbage disposal, things would look different to me. It might become easier to whisk the leftovers away down a drain to be seen no more. I’m always thankful we have a dog to take care of things like soggy cereal left sitting in a dish, dabs of spaghetti abandoned on the kids’ plates, pieces of sandwiches from the lunch boxes, stale bread, and old cookies. When Lydia eats them, I don’t feel guilty about them. She accepts these mid-morning offerings with the same eager eyes that welcome her nightly meals. Moldy findings not fit for the dog should be carried to our compost pile, and this is a task dreaded by all at our house – especially in wet weather when we have to change to boots.

We Americans are such wastemakers with food (and most everything else). We are so sure that there will always be plenty more where this came from – which is a lame excuse for not making the best use of what we already have in hand. That makes me sad and scared. I don’t want to be a wastemaker, so, I continue to waste my time with recycled butter boxes, let them find their

way to the back of my fridge, and then pretend to not know how they got there.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!