Sept. 3, 2015
Every year in the late summer I begin a hot, messy ritual. My kitchen becomes a steam sauna strewn with the vegetative carcasses of all things garden grown. Depending on my crop yields, I will enjoy canning everything from tomatoes, to salsa, and maybe the last of the beans. I love canned beets, too, but they didn’t do so well with the excess rain this year. My corn is already ‘put up’; I prefer it frozen. An art and science every grade schooler should participate in, I learned to can from my Grandma, the exceptional and 90-years-young, Dorothy Willard.
Graphic by WSJ using data attributed to USDA
Being in the preservation mode, the article, The Challenge in Taking A Bite Out of Food Waste, in last week’s Wall Street Journal really caught my eye. Columnist Jo Craven McGinty reported: “In its most recent report, the Agriculture Department estimated that 133 billion pounds of food was lost at the retail and consumer levels in 2010.” That’s an appalling number. She also cited USDA facts that indicate this loss amounts to nearly 429 pounds of food wasted per person in the U.S. (See image).
At first, I was horrified that people, restaurants, and wholesalers could be so wasteful. I, great steward of the land was doing my part to be sustainable with my food consumption! But, the high and mighty notion was quickly dispelled as I considered the moldy cheese in bottom drawer, the milk I probably wouldn’t finish before my next trip, and the lettuce I’d tossed this morning because it had grown slimy. I was part of the problem, too.
Only smart buying decisions, resourceful food prep and frankly just paying attention to our own consuming habits can fix this waste. Grandma would not be proud of me for wasting things; she taught me to use cloth napkins at the dinner table, keep rubber bands and wash out plastic bags for later use (all habits I employ). I’ve decided to make a change and put the time into responsible food preservation and consumption on both sides of the garden. Join me, will you?