Sunday, June 1, 2008

New goals - buy less, eat less, waste less!

My husband just exclaimed moments ago, that he had (by sending me a link to a blog devoted to the issue of wasted food) launched me in a whole new direction! To which I replied "you've always been my best teacher!"

What he says is true in a certain way - I think you would have to be in complete isolation not to see the big picture. It's all over the papers, on television - Burma, China, Darfur - people starving, food prices on the rise, and yet here in the West, abundant wealth - despite gas prices climbing through the roof, we still spend way to much and still waste too much. It is frightening; I feel like we are teetering on the edge of a full-blown societal collapse.

But I always calm myself down and take a look to see what can I do...and believe me, I don't look too far. The knowledge and support is out there. Last Sunday's Toronto Star had a cover story named 'Junked Food'. I won't give you the full run-down, but in a nutshell: the amount of food dumped last year in Toronto (by residential areas alone) was 210 million kilograms. A study done in the U.K. by a research group, WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) claims that less than 1/5 of the food was authentic scraps (bones, peelings etc); that 15% of the food was in the original wrapper, some thrown out before the 'use by' date.

A table within the article described the waste problem and then gave tips to avoid waste:

1. Stop doing your groceries once or every other week (we buy too much food and end up throwing it out as it rots in our refrigerators). I have always done my shopping this way but agree totally that this is a wasteful way of consuming.

2. At the table, we take too much food and then leave too many scraps on our plates.

3. Plan meals and purchase the ingredients for these planned meals (avoid impulse purchases).

4. Save leftovers (store them properly for another night's meal or lunches during the week). Much of the fruits we purchase will last longer (1 to 2 weeks) if stored in the crisper drawer in the fridge.

5. Freeze food purchases that you will not consume by the best before date.

6. Be brave - face what you have in the cupboard and refrigerator and prepare a meal! You can do it! It's only a matter of confidence.*

*The worst that can happen are complaints from the "peanut gallery" (does anyone use that phrase anymore?) and leftovers. But then, this means you have something that you can turn into a what is known, affectionately, as a "week's end soup". Who knows, the 'reincarnated' meal may taste great and get rave reviews. (Naturally, should the rave reviews be forthcoming, one must avoid the impulse to smile smugly and announce, what had just crossed their lips was the very same stuff, lovingly prepared 2 days ago, which had been the source of endless critiquing! Not that this has happened in my house. Noooo....never. Sorry....a little dry humour on my part.)

Be you a meat-eating carnivore or a strict vegan or somewhere in between, this waste issue is a responsibility that we must all share in. By addressing the causes, we can effect a change and in the process, become consumers with compassion - for the animals, human or otherwise and for our planet.

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Quang Thành Kính said...

Amazing! I just heard on the CBC that in England, because the government refuses to allow migrant workers to work on farms, up to 25% of a bumper crop of fruits and vegetables will rot in the fields this year. They used to allow Polish workers to pick the produce, but they have left for better jobs back home.
The exploitation of migrant farm workers is horrible. But still, there are people who would take that summer job to improve their family's situation. However, the British government has apparently refused to issue visas. On the same day, the UN is calling for a world-wide program to stave off the huge increase in famines triggered by the rising food prices. We are SO disconnected!

Meena said...

Surfed in and found your blog. At the risk of sounding negative, you are preaching to the converted. Nice to see that you are doing something, though. One problem is that people are too busy, they need to slow down. Buying food with the intention to cook it then either not have the time, or even the knowledge sometimes, of how to cook. I know lots of young people who don't know how to cook, so eat out, or buy stuff and not know what to do with it, if they have time from their after work activities, and taking the kids to lessons or soccer games. Entire lifestyles changes are needed, on a whole lot of levels. I am Hindu and notice that you have some Buddhist links. Slowing way down, as taught in Buddhism philosophy is the way to go. Ego and greed cause our own and the world's suffering.

Compassionate Consumption said...

You nailed it! Ego and greed - and may I add FEAR - that pretty much sums up the root causes of our / my suffering. Thanks for visiting Meena.

Meena said...

Thanks for acknowledging my comment. Yes, FEAR! EGO! All more reason to study hard philosophy of Lord Buddha. I add his practice to my own religion so compassion to all beings.