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Food waste

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im_nomad Oct 20, 2009 08:08 PM

I don't know if it's just me, or because i'm noticing more, but I seem to be running into an awful lot of people lately who seem to be constantly throwing out food, be it cooking a meal and simply tossing anything and everything that is left over, or the types who seem to believe that a yogurt or slice of bread will spontaneously combust at 12am on it's "best before" date, and therefore throw it out on the day, or worse, a couple of days before because it's approaching, sometimes even just because it's sat for a day or two and "no one seems to be eating it".

I've seen this so much lately with a couple of people I work with that throw out perfectly good foods from the staff fridge, or foods of their own for these reasons. I no longer bring in food because i'm known to eat a yogurt past it's date, or freeze items on the expiry date to extend and eat after defrosting. Bread really doesn't bother me at all if it's not moldy or stale, but people toss it away even when it's not theirs, as if it's going to bite them or take over the kitchen if they don't take action. Gallons of milk have gone down the drain there.

I seem to have encountered a few people lately that don't "do" leftovers and will simply open the trash can and throw loads of perfectly good food away immediately after a meal. Freezing soups and such is foreign to some. Oddly, some of these have been in my parent's age group, who never seem to throw anything out

I agree that there is no point eating foods just to get rid of them either, or taking risks with food, but it I admit this stuff really bothers me and I find it so incredibly wasteful to be tossing such volumes of food.

What gives ? Why are people so scared of their food ?

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  1. corneygirl Oct 20, 2009 10:36 PM

    I try really hard to purchase / cook food in reasonable quantities. We eat leftovers, and I rely on smell, mold, or a call to Mom for how long things last for. Main exception is milk, which I rarely buy because neither of us drink it. For recipes I try to find the lunch box size.

    However, restraunt leftovers get tossed after 2 days if they haven't been eaten. Also every 6 weeks or so I purge the fridge and anything close to being passed prime or almost empty gets chucked. I should be more ruthless, as I moved in with SO 2 years ago and just bought mustard for the first time a couple weeks ago. Salad dressing could sustain the whole block through some disaster for a month.

    I think when people don't cook and think about where their food comes from they are more likely to be wasteful. If you grow a few things, and make stuff from scratch you respect it more.

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    1. q
      queencru Oct 21, 2009 05:00 AM

      I think the work kitchen is an entirely different entity from the at-home kitchen. A large group of people are sharing what's usually a fairly tiny space and most people feel like it needs to remain pretty clean so people have equal access to it. Most of the places I've worked had a set cleanout date- every other Friday, for instance- and if your food was in on that day, then it got tossed. I can see people tossing foods on the expiration date just to make room for food that's newer. As for throwing away leftovers, I don't know what your kitchen is like, but I haven't worked in many kitchens that have many reusable containers to put leftovers in. In the typical styrofoam containers, things start to smell bad fairly quickly and are fairly unwieldy in the fridge.

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      1. j
        Janet from Richmond Oct 21, 2009 05:11 AM

        In our case (and we throw out a lot of food) it's not about being scared, but either it's less than fresh which I find undesirable as far as taste and texture or am simply tired of it. Except for a few things (stews, chili, pot roast, lasagna, roasted meat, meat loaf) I find leftovers unappealing and unappetizing. And I have no desire to freeze items..I find them unappealing as well

        In my younger years I had to eat leftovers for financial reasons and now that I do not, I don't (without apology). If the time comes where I have to again for financial reason, I will but for now, will not.

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        1. re: Janet from Richmond
          d
          DeppityDawg Oct 21, 2009 05:29 AM

          I hope that you are never driven to such unappealing measures for financial reasons. Luckily, in the future, what to do with leftovers will be the least of our worries.

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          1. re: Janet from Richmond
            Scargod Oct 21, 2009 10:52 AM

            I find it unappealing to see huge quantities of food prepared and thrown out. That is one reason I abhor buffets. We could cook less... regardless of our financial state. I think about the worker who, on Friday, blows his wad on booze, let's say... If we have enough money we can do excess in perpetuity.

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            1. re: Scargod
              paulj Oct 21, 2009 11:54 AM

              In a typical restaurant, how much waste is generated during food prep, how much is tossed because there weren't enough orders, and how much gets tossed because the customer didn't finish? Even in the buffet case, there's probably a lot of 'behind the scenes' waste.

              It probably also depends on the type of restaurant. If all the food comes out of the freezer, ready to heat in the micro or fryer, there is little prep-state waste. But if a fancy restaurant buys their produce fresh every day, and trims their potatoes into pretty cylinders, there's going to be a lot a prep-waste. Some of this can be recycled in the stew pot, but not all.

              I suspect that the pickier the customer base, the more waste is generated - before or after prep.

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              1. re: paulj
                im_nomad Oct 21, 2009 12:47 PM

                I guess that the concept of what is, or what isn't waste, is up for discussion. Potato peelings are edible as long as they're washed and usually cooked, but most people wouldn't save peelings to cook later ( I eat the potato peel and all myself for the most part ). Does 1 cup potato peelings = 1 cup prepared food, in the scheme of waste ?

                I understand that a restaurant has a different standard to adhere to than I do at home, particularly in a litigious society. And a certain amount of waste is somewhat acceptable. It's the excess waste that I speak to and the over-reliance on "best before" dates that I speak to, people who NEVER keep anything, and always toss things days before the dates roll around.

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            2. re: Janet from Richmond
              c oliver Oct 21, 2009 01:22 PM

              I have to admit that the above "and we throw out a lot of food" makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. If you're cooking too much, why can't you cook less? Or set up to share with a friend, neighbor or coworker? If you're eating out, why can't you and your husband share an entree or you can just have apps? No one is going to lecture you about doing unappealing things, i.e., eating leftovers, freezing them, etc. But, boy, throwing out ALOT of food seems a tad off somehow.

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              1. re: c oliver
                j
                Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 05:51 AM

                If you're cooking too much, why can't you cook less? Or set up to share with a friend, neighbor or coworker? If you're eating out, why can't you and your husband share an entree or you can just have apps?
                ___
                -Many things are cooked based on a specific quantity/package, such as Near East Rice or a pork roast or even a package of ravioli.

                -We aren't neighborly with the neighbors and I don't feel comfortable pushing my leftovers on friends who are doing there thing. I'm not that presumptuous as to think they want 1/2 cup leftover couscous.

                -I work alone in the office. My boss is a vegetarian and I only see him about once a week.

                -I love fish. My husband does not. Eating out is the one time I get to have seafood as well as asparagus, spicy foods, and other things. One reason we eat out so much is because we have different food preferences.

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            3. Sam Fujisaka Oct 21, 2009 05:30 AM

              Food waste in the developed world (especially the US and Europe) is one of my biggest pet peeves.

              Food wasted could feed all of the globe's hungry.

              I don't waste any food. The other day I had bananas going black and some apples and mangoes getting on. An hour or so later I had two loaves of banana bread topped with an apple-mango sauce.

              I'm always shocked at how much fellow hounds say that they throw out.

              Part of the problem is the fear-laden society that is now the US; part of the problem is the sense of entitlement to waste the planet's resources.

              You pulled my chain.

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              1. re: Sam Fujisaka
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                gryphonskeeper Oct 21, 2009 06:17 AM

                I don't either Sam, I grew up extremely poor, and spent many nights going to bed with not enough to eat. I never throw away food. I cut mold off cheese, and will find a way to recycle just about any leftover (we eat lots of soups). The last time I went out of the country to Mexico City and Rome I saw poverty and starvation, which just made my heart break. For as hungry as I ever was as a child (and I did climb into a grocery store dumpster once to get food they were throwing out when I was only 6) I don't think I ever had it as bad as those children, at least I had a bed and a roof.

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                1. re: gryphonskeeper
                  JerryMe Oct 21, 2009 05:24 PM

                  OOOh - I wasn't going to respond to this thread until I read your response GryPhonsKeeper, yes - Ditto!

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                  1. re: gryphonskeeper
                    pikawicca Oct 21, 2009 06:42 PM

                    I think that the problem is clueless home cooks who don't know what to do with a black banana. In the Internet age, this seems like a strange problem to have. Then again, if you have "home cooks" who don't know how to put a home-cooked meal on the table, it's really no surprise that they don't know what to do with a slightly dodgy leftover.

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                    1. re: pikawicca
                      c oliver Oct 21, 2009 06:46 PM

                      And maybe a lack of math skills. If a recipe says 6 servers, there are 2 of you and you don't like leftovers, then divide by 3. No waste, no leftovers. Seems simple to me.

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                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                    tcamp Oct 21, 2009 07:49 AM

                    Another part of the problem is lack of a commitment to waste reduction in the US. Even though school kids get preached to constantly about recycling, the reality is that in many public places there are trash cans only. No recycling cans, no compost collection cans, etc. I was struck by this during a visit to Ontario this summer. Imagine, recycling containers in parks! And compost cans right next to trash cans at restaurants!

                    I adore leftovers, freeze obsessively, and make good use of aging fruits and veggies. But, still, there is too much waste going on. I just scolded a kid for eating the tuna salad out of a sandwich and leaving the bread behind.

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                    1. re: tcamp
                      Sooeygun Oct 21, 2009 08:05 AM

                      Your comment about lack of commitment to waste reduction made me think of a recent trip to the museum (ROM in Toronto). In the cafeteria (called the Food Studio and is trying to highlight fresh, local organic foods...but that's for another post), they have bins at the exit where you get rid of your trash. Each bin had pictures over it of what should go in (one for plastics, one for paper products, etc). Good pictures too, that seemed to cover all the different things you might buy there. There I was carefully looking at each thing and putting it in the correct bin and a woman comes in after me with a tray piled with all the leftover stuff from her entire family's meal and dumped it all in the garbage bin. It would have taken her 10 seconds to separate into the proper recycling bins. Arggh!

                      I definitely try to have as little food waste as possible. Sometimes my leftovers aren't as good as the meal was fresh, but I couldn't imagine throwing them out for that reason. Just goes against the way I was raised.

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                      1. re: Sooeygun
                        im_nomad Oct 21, 2009 12:55 PM

                        I have recently upped my recycling habits simply because I became more aware of what my town would, and wouldn't take for recyclables, and as a result, the results of my toss-aways stare me in the face every two weeks, and consequently I have been giving more thought to packaging, and the products I buy. It reminds me of the episodes of Hell's Kitchen and such, where the participants were made to go through the massive quantities of food waste they'd produced either through mistakes or otherwise. But it really shouldn't have to jump up and bite you.

                        Our forefathers i'm sure had ingenious ways to utilize leftovers, and I like to think of the many recipes we may not have had if they too were so apt to toss. Stuff like bread pudding, that likely has its origins in using up old bread bits and such, or any such thing that's purpose may have originally been to use up the not-so-great bits. Various hash-type deals. etc.

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                        1. re: im_nomad
                          cuccubear Oct 21, 2009 01:32 PM

                          “…I have been giving more thought to packaging, and the products I buy.”

                          That’s where I’m at too…the less packaging the better, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

                          I guess as our tastes and desires for “exotic” foods, (more specifically, those foods that are not locally indigenous), have matured we are used to having what had heretofore been out-of-reach or unheard of. That stuff has to be packaged somewhere and shipped to us. Another vicious circle.

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                          1. re: im_nomad
                            lisavf Oct 23, 2009 10:09 AM

                            "Our forefathers i'm sure had ingenious ways to utilize leftovers"

                            Yep, they fed them to the pigs.

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                            1. re: lisavf
                              im_nomad Oct 23, 2009 01:15 PM

                              evidently we had different forefathers.

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                              1. re: im_nomad
                                lisavf Oct 28, 2009 12:40 PM

                                Undoubtably so. Melting pot and all, right?

                                But when you think about it, isn't feeding the leftovers to the pigs the ultimate in recycling? You feed the pigs the food you aren't going to eat, then eventually you do "eat" that food when you slaughter and eat the pig. Hey, pigs gotta eat, too, right?

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                          2. re: Sooeygun
                            Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 07:30 PM

                            I live in Toronto, and what actually happens to our recycling has been a source of some embarrassment to our local government. Many homeowners faithfully separate compost, recyclables, etc., only to find out the recyclables aren't all being recycled and the compost is being incinerated. I have two composters in my backyard, sort to the best of my abilities and even take recyclables home with me if I'm somewhere that doesn't recycle. That said, I think we need to work on minimizing the amount of packaging we buy, including things like bottled water when tap water (at least in Toronto) is perfectly drinkable and bottled water (some kinds) are filled with the very same water flowing from the tap. It seems crazy to me that many children growing up in Toronto today think that you can't drink water from a tap. The reality is that lots of energy is going into that package, and then lots of energy must be used to turn it into something else.

                            As far as leftovers go, I grew up in a home where money was scarce, and, as a child, I learned how to calculate per unit costs at the grocery store. I had one of those parents who figured out which eggs were the cheapest based on the weights for the different sizes. We ate liver, heart, tongue, kidney, and all the cheapest cuts of meat, but we ate healthy--brown rice, brown bread, lots of vegetables. To this day, my sister and I cannot stand to waste things. Leftovers go in the freezer for another day or are turned, by some magic, into something else, a new dish. I am fortunate to have a husband who doesn't mind eating leftovers (I, too, have no problem with this). Black bananas sit in the freezer for banana bread. I think in many cases it is easy enough to buy the quantity of something you want. No need to buy a 3 pound roast for two people. Slice it in half and put the rest in the freezer. Cut that leftover roast into pieces the next day and serve in a panini. Make a sauce and add it to pasta. Use it in a soup.

                            That said, there is someone I know who is like some paragon of wastelessness compared to me. He eats bruised fruit (I don't mean he cuts the bruised part out) and anything others would pass over. Looking at my composter one day, he commented how he never has compost, since he eats it all... and I believe him.

                            Many kids are growing up with such excess these days (you know there's excess when people spend the money they do on high-end bottled waters--in areas where there is no real need to do so, aside from the apparent surge in status it guarantees), with so much food in their lunchboxes, especially the prepared foods (Lunchables et al.) that they can pick and choose, discarding what they don't want. Teaching them to recycle is one thing, but they need to be taught not to waste in the first place. And, to my mind, that includes not buying Lunchables, not buying the bottles of water and juice boxes, etc. Recycling just seems to make over-consumption virtuous, somehow...

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                            1. re: Full tummy
                              c oliver Oct 28, 2009 07:40 PM

                              Excellent, Ft. It took me a while to realize that recycling is a symptom not a cure. But I recycle (and eat up) so much we only have to have garbage pickup every two weeks.

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                              1. re: c oliver
                                Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 08:08 PM

                                Here in Toronto, that's all we have, hahaha. Garbage one week, recycling the next... Green bin (compost) each week, but to be honest, we don't eat much meat, so most of our compost goes in the yard compost bins.

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                                1. re: Full tummy
                                  c oliver Oct 28, 2009 08:11 PM

                                  Excellent. We live up in the mountains in NoCal. It never gets hot and we have bears around so I can't c ompost. But between us and the dogs, there's not much left.

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                                  1. re: Full tummy
                                    Paulustrious Oct 29, 2009 09:01 AM

                                    Like you I have two composters in my back garden for all the green stuff. However I also chuck out the chicken bones, fat etc. The following morning they have all magically disappeared. The raccoons here do an amazing low-energy, minimal carbon footprint job of recycling and fertilizing. I know they can be a nuisance if they nest in a roof, but to me they provide a far more flexible and reliable waste disposal service than the city.

                                    We have a deck which is inaccessible to them and the temperature has dropped sufficiently that it becomes our extension fridge. All the veggies are stored outside till the big chill comes. Then we have an outside freezer.

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                                    1. re: Paulustrious
                                      Sooeygun Oct 29, 2009 09:05 AM

                                      At my mom's house the bones, etc get dumped down in the woods and the foxes take them. They are quite happy to look after them for us.

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                                      1. re: Paulustrious
                                        alanbarnes Oct 29, 2009 09:27 AM

                                        I put bones and meat scraps in the pressure cooker with any wilted celery or rubbery carrots that are on hand and make stock. When the stock is done, the bones are crumbly, so I mash the solids and mix 'em up with leftover rice, stale bread, and anything in the fridge that's past its prime. The dogs love it.

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                                        1. re: alanbarnes
                                          Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 09:41 AM

                                          Now, that is an excellent idea, and I will give it a try. Will have to make sure not to use the gnawed-on bones, though. How long do you keep the pressure cooker at pressure?

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                                          1. re: Full tummy
                                            alanbarnes Oct 29, 2009 10:13 AM

                                            Usually about an hour. And I'm shameless about using gnawed bones. If a pressure cooker (aka autoclave) is good enough to sterilize surgical equipment, IMO a gnawed bone isn't going to be an issue.

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                                            1. re: alanbarnes
                                              Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 10:17 AM

                                              You're better than me, that's all I can say. Just don't tell the dinner guests, when you serve them the tasty chicken soup, hahaha.

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                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                Paulustrious Oct 29, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                An hour will give a stock that is cloudy - and that's fine by me. 40 minutes will dissolve most of the collagen and generate a 'cleaner' stock

                                                Edit: assuming a 15 lb pressure.

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                                                1. re: Paulustrious
                                                  Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                  That would be my preference. Thanks.

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                                                2. re: alanbarnes
                                                  c
                                                  cinnamon girl Oct 29, 2009 02:42 PM

                                                  I use the gnawed bones too. By the time it's stock, any unwelcomed bacterial visitors have to be dead. What a brilliant idea to mash them up to give to your dog. No doggie osteoporosis there!

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                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                    Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 02:52 PM

                                                    I agree in theory, but I just couldn't do that. I'd think I had a secret in my soup as others ate it. I wouldn't mind for myself, but I don't relish the thought of eating others' gnawed on bones, even if they've been sterilized, or serving mine to someone else.

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                                            2. re: Paulustrious
                                              Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 09:38 AM

                                              Luckily, the raccoons have never figured out how to get into our compost bins. However, they have ruined our City green bin--the latch no longer works.

                                              We recently had a City garbage strike, and I told Hubby not to worry about raccoon proofing the green bin with bungee cords and bricks to keep the raccoons out... Who knew how long the garbage strike was going to last? The nightly garbage clear-out crew were very effective while the strike lasted.

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                                    2. re: tcamp
                                      q
                                      queencru Oct 21, 2009 08:16 AM

                                      It really depends on the city. I have friends who live in a relatively small town that requires a $2 sticker on each trash bag to be picked up. As a result, people there are much more cognizant of how much they throw out. My friends compost and have many recycling bins and end up having about one bag go out per two weeks. I think recycling is something each city has to work on individually.

                                      When I lived in Japan, there was generally a higher level of interest in recycling, but again it was up to each municipality to decide. I had a friend who lived in an area with one trash bag and no recycling bags, but in my area we had 4 plus cardboard and battery recycling in all neighborhoods. Other areas have 10+ divisions.

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                                      1. re: queencru
                                        pikawicca Oct 21, 2009 07:38 PM

                                        please email me at pikawicca@hotmail.com

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                                    3. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                      paulj Oct 21, 2009 10:45 AM

                                      But you didn't eat the banana peels, did you? I bet you tossed them out in the street for the scavenging pigs. :)

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                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                        pikawicca Oct 21, 2009 06:48 PM

                                        I'm not so sure it's a sense of entitlement, Sam, rather a sense that we can have it all, that mother nature's bounty is endless. I really think that my compatriots believe that science can solve all of our problems. This is pretty ironic. We've expended a lot of effort to convince Americans that science is supreme, but we are now at a place where science can't reverse what we've wrought.

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                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                          cassoulady Oct 22, 2009 10:29 AM

                                          Sam, you are a man after my own heart. I have black bananas in the freezer as we speak waiting for banana bread or a smoothie. I try to use as much as I can, bread ends become breadcrumbs, veggie scraps end up in stocks. I think as a chowhound, putting leftovers, scraps etc to a new use is a fun challenge. I think I do a pretty good job but then am amazed when I see people who do much more. A friend of mine saves orange peels and puts them near the pilot light of the stove for some homemade air freshener (I never would have thought of that!). I think that younger generations can learn a lot from depression-era raised people who have learned ways to really make the most out of everything they have. I know I certainly have.

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                                          1. re: cassoulady
                                            g
                                            gryphonskeeper Oct 22, 2009 11:10 AM

                                            I take the citrus shavings and boil them to freshen the air, then I take the boiled peels and put them in the garbage disposal to clean it, and use the water in a spray bottle to clean with.

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                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                              cassoulady Oct 22, 2009 01:58 PM

                                              does that clean well? do u use it for counters?

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                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                            l
                                            latindancer Oct 22, 2009 02:36 PM

                                            "The other day I had bananas going black and some apples and mangoes getting on. An hour or so later I had two loaves of banana bread toopped with an apple-mango sauce".

                                            It's hard to believe people DON'T do this. What do people do with their black bananas and apples and mangoes that are 'getting on'? Throw them out?
                                            I'm a little obsessive, I fully admit, for using food while it's fresh but that doesn't mean I throw it out as it's aging. I use it like you do....whether it be banana bread or applesauce or leftover chicken for sandwiches or the chicken carcass for soup. It's all used and never thrown out. If I can't eat what I've made, someone else will. Perhaps people need to be purchasing smaller refrigerators so they buy smaller amounts of food.

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                                          3. JungMann Oct 21, 2009 06:39 AM

                                            I am mortified by the amount of food waste I encounter on a daily basis, including from those who otherwise wear their hard-scrabble upbringings as a badge of honor for thrift. I am irritated by the amount of pseudo-scientific phobia surrounding food preparation and handling that excuses wasteful practices.

                                            Milk does not magically spoil earlier in NYC and later in the suburbs, regardless of what you see printed on the expiry date. Eating leftover crisper vegetables everyday for a week need not be boring if you use them in interesting ways. I don't wanna is not a responsible reason to refuse leftovers as a rule.

                                            Piqued by the interesting items at Ikea, I bought a tube of smoked cod roe earlier this month. I don't know what I was thinking because the substance is absolutely foul --- caviar should not come in toothpaste form. But I have struggled to get it down rather than waste a luxury item which travelled halfway around the globe so I could half-mindedly buy it on a whim. I grimaced tasting it for a week, enduring the ridicule and jeers of folks who can smell the paste from across the way, but through diligence I've found I can make delicious scrambled eggs with the roe paste and am now 3/4 done with the tube. If one needs a chowish reason to avoid waste, perhaps we might think of it as a challenge of our kitchen prowess.

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                                            1. re: JungMann
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                                              Janet from Richmond Oct 21, 2009 06:53 AM

                                              This is what I find ironic...thread after thread harbors the evils of eating less than Chowish food (chains, packaged, etc.) but then someone buys something that simply isn't good (for whatever reason) and it becomes a badge of honor to endure it for a week? Sorry, life is too short.

                                              I do try to buy as I go, what I need, etc. Lettuce is the biggest challenge as far as that goes, but I'm going to eat what I want, when I want if I have control over the situation.

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                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                JungMann Oct 21, 2009 08:41 AM

                                                I don't begrudge someone for enjoying chains or tinned food, nor do I deserve plaudits for eating something gross. But to have turned that something gross into something delicious instead of just chucking it because I didn't know what to do with it is not something about which I'm embarrassed.

                                                What you're getting at is that food serves a purpose: it serves to satisfy, so you eat when you want, when you want. Therefore eating something that isn't good, something that doesn't satisfy, is foolish. Fine. But I think there is another purpose to food, chiefly to feed hunger. Given the extent of malnourishment, our privilege in the West, the respect we owe our food, etc., I think there is also a moral dimension to this, so when food sits idle to rot or go to waste, I find it more than foolish. I find it a shame. Different POV.

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                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                  j
                                                  Janet from Richmond Oct 21, 2009 09:28 AM

                                                  If my keeping the half plate of fettucini alfredo helped to fend off hunger for the less fortunate, I'd be all for it. But whether it goes in my belly or in the trash makes no difference. There are others ways that make a difference IMO.

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                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                    im_nomad Oct 21, 2009 02:55 PM

                                                    I respectfully disagree that it doesn't make a difference, but not necessarily after the fact. Needing to buy the whole, instead of the half plate to begin with, particularly on a regular basis, has set up a supply-demand cycle that could have us over-extending our natural resources at the expense of other areas of the world or food stocks in general.

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                                                    1. re: im_nomad
                                                      c
                                                      Cachetes Oct 21, 2009 03:08 PM

                                                      Precisely. Moreover, it's not as if we do not have choices. If my only options were to cook at home in the appropriate amount so that I didn't have the undesired leftovers or to eat out at restaurants that served me so much that some would inevitably end up in the garbage, I'd chose the former every time.

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                                                    2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                      c
                                                      cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 02:44 PM

                                                      Absolutely wrong-headed in my view. If we all stopped taking more than our fair share of EVERYTHING (I included all resources here), everyone, the world over, would be better off. Just the cheese and pork products in your alfredo take their environmental toll. Try to visualize EVERYONE - not just you, taking twice as much as they consume. That's a heap o' food and hurt to mother earth. Your decision affects people who have very little; people you've never met; people who are supporting your unsustainable ways.

                                                      Buddhists have a saying which I don't remember verbatim, but it's something along the lines of: a person who wastes has an ego run amok. You need to look at where this entitlement comes from - beyond having to eat leftovers in your youth. Lots of us did too and have evolved a different outlook. It's not all locked in stone: you can change your attitude here. Maybe you could examine why wasting makes you feel affluent? or secure? or . . . ??? you can do it!!

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                                                      1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                        paulj Oct 28, 2009 03:21 PM

                                                        Could you elaborate on how leaving half a plate of alfredo in Richmond (or Toronto) affects people with very little? I'm having trouble connecting the dots.

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                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                          s
                                                          small h Oct 28, 2009 03:39 PM

                                                          Just file under "holier than Chow."

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                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                            Scargod Oct 28, 2009 04:18 PM

                                                            I read people saying that here (that not wasting will not help others), and I just don't see why people can't get it, or don't want to get it.
                                                            I am not going to preach a sermon about this; it's already preached from every media source, food bank and soup kitchen. Just look around you, or pick up the paper. The answer is there, unless you don't want to get it.

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                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                              alanbarnes Oct 28, 2009 04:31 PM

                                                              She explained it very well. Waste anywhere has a small effect everywhere. If you and Janet are the only wasteful people on the planet, the rest of the population won't notice. If billions of people engage in similar egotistical behavior, everybody suffers.

                                                              You can't change the behavior of billions. You can change your own behavior. It's called responsibility.

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                                                              1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                g
                                                                gryphonskeeper Oct 28, 2009 04:40 PM

                                                                You can't change the behavior of billions. You can change your own behavior. It's called responsibility."

                                                                THAT is Perfect.

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                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                  l
                                                                  lgss Oct 29, 2009 04:32 PM

                                                                  One can't change the behavior of others, one can only change how one chooses to respond to others...and set examples for those who choose to follow.

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                                                            2. re: cinnamon girl
                                                              s
                                                              small h Oct 28, 2009 06:01 PM

                                                              This is one of the slipperiest slopes around. Because you seem to be striving toward a 0-waste existence - admirable! But how far are you willing to take it? A quick perusal of your Home Cooking posts suggests you eat meat. If you didn't, you'd probably be consuming far fewer resources, calorie for calorie.

                                                              I try like hell not to waste food, partly 'cause I care about the planet, blah blah blah, and partly because I'm just cheap. I also haven't eaten a mammal or a bird since 1982. Nor do I own a car. So I hereby donate my substantial accumulated carbon credits to Janet from Richmond, so she can ditch her leftovers if she feels like it. Ok?

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                                                              1. re: small h
                                                                c oliver Oct 28, 2009 06:05 PM

                                                                So does that make it a wash rather than the gain that YOU provide? Please don't give away your "capital."

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                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                  s
                                                                  small h Oct 28, 2009 06:22 PM

                                                                  I've got capital to spare. Heck, I don't even eat that much! (The "small" in my user name is there for a reason.) J of R would have to make gallons and gallons of rainforest-clearing beef stew and yards and yards of groundwater-polluting pork sausage and then pitch it out the window in order to come close to negating the environmental damage I've helped offset (and try saying that five times fast). And while religious aphorisms are being bandied about, I'll throw in the one that starts "let he who is without sin..."

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                                                                  1. re: small h
                                                                    jfood Oct 28, 2009 07:01 PM

                                                                    small h

                                                                    jfood would like to join you and Janet on your balance sheet. on Janet's side. Unfortunately he owns more than a couple of cars, but he tries to be frugal with his food purchases. he just has an issue with leftovers and has not found a 12-step program that works. And thak you so much for the last quote in your post, jfood wanted to place taht on this thread, but...

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                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                      s
                                                                      small h Oct 28, 2009 07:18 PM

                                                                      <but...>

                                                                      But maybe you're an MOT, like me? I'm an equal opportunity religious aphorism bandy-about-er. Were I better versed in the wisdom of the Zorastrians and the B'hai, I'd be flinging that around as well.

                                                                      Note that Janet is now in direct competition with you, dumpster-diving-wise!

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                                                                      1. re: small h
                                                                        jfood Oct 28, 2009 07:25 PM

                                                                        Jfood understands the acronym and admits pedigree. Like you there are wonderful quotes from all branches of religion and philosophical persuasions. He does try to avoid quoting those that were, let's say, less than enamored by us moving on up.

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                                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                                          s
                                                                          small h Oct 28, 2009 07:32 PM

                                                                          Gracious, if I limited myself thus, I'd have to be nearly silent (which might kill me). Suddenly I have the urge to seek out a certain Tom Lehrer song on YouTube.

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                                                                        2. re: small h
                                                                          Paulustrious Oct 29, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                                          Paul does not understand acronyms.

                                                                          Well 'mot' is a French word, in every sense. What does it mean here?

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                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                            s
                                                                            small h Oct 29, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                                            Member of the Tribe, as in the twelve tribes of Israel. I like to think of myself as a bon MOT!

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                                                                      2. re: small h
                                                                        Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 07:37 PM

                                                                        Actually, even if it's true that you are not causing the environmental damage that others do, doesn't mean that you're not causing damage... Maybe your example is what the rest of us should be aspiring to, at a minimum, rather than saying that others can waste more because you don't waste *as much*.

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                                                                        1. re: Full tummy
                                                                          s
                                                                          small h Oct 28, 2009 07:52 PM

                                                                          Mais non. My point is that we are all degrees on the sliding scale of havoc, and it is useless (and insulting, and almost definitely inaccurate) to attempt a quantitative analysis of the behavior of others - based on a message board thread - in order to measure it against our own. I'm idealistic enough (or idiotic enough) to believe that most people want to be good. How they define "good," and how they achieve it, is not my business. For all I know, Janet of Richmond, she of the terribly wasteful food habits, has established a school for orphans in Malawi. And (insert name of Miss Huffypants here) is merely saving her onion skins to make stock and cutting the moldy parts off her cheese. Who is contributing more to the health of the universe?

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                                                                    2. re: small h
                                                                      c
                                                                      cinnamon girl Oct 29, 2009 11:15 AM

                                                                      You're right that eating meat means that I'm consuming more than my share of resources. But doesn't wasting half of it make it twice the drag on resources? (Also I don't eat meat every day, or even every week and often only use small amounts in cooking.) Like you, I don't have a car either. I don't understand what's complicated about the waste argument. While an orphanage is noble what does it have to do with squandering resources and adding to pollution? It seems like a separate argument. Sorry if my post sounded sanctimonious - I could have reined that in. Deliberate waste just pushes all my buttons. I don't understand why, like FullTummy, the piece of meat (or whatever), can't just be cut in half before cooking and put in the freezer for later. How hard is that?

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                                                                      1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                        jfood Oct 29, 2009 01:38 PM

                                                                        And if that makes you feel that you are fully contributing what you can, that is great. Like Janet, Jfood is comfortable in his skin on how he acts to make the world a better place for him and future generations.

                                                                        Everyone does their part. Jfood will not criticize your choices and asks the same.

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                                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                          s
                                                                          small h Oct 29, 2009 04:22 PM

                                                                          We all add to pollution: you, me, every single person on this thread. The electricity you're consuming by running your computer adds to pollution - clearly a squandered resource, since I'm reasonably sure that you don't need to post to Chowhound to survive (do correct me if I'm wrong). So that's some "deliberate waste" right there. Unless you're prepared to follow this road right to the end and eliminate your impact on the earth entirely - and there's really only one way to do that - why not let others commit their relatively minor infractions in peace? If someone starts strip-mining your front yard, though, go for it, and I've got your back.

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                                                                      2. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                        j
                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 29, 2009 11:08 AM

                                                                        I'm fine with my attitude and how I conduct myself in regard to food/leftovers/etc. But thank you for your input.

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                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                    chocabot Oct 28, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                                    I don't do it as a badge of honour.

                                                                    Personally, I find the taste of guilt and waste to be far more bitter than the taste of bad food.

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                                                                    1. re: chocabot
                                                                      c oliver Oct 28, 2009 10:04 AM

                                                                      I've rarely read anything on Chowhound more profound. Thank you. I had a "mish-mash" of things for dinner the other night. I didn't love it but I didn't waste it so it made it taste better :)

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                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                        jfood Oct 28, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                                        As a counter-balance, jfood ate a bunch of leftovers last night and there werestill plenty if he wanted them back in the fridge. They went into the disposal and compactor. Every time his stomach gurgled during NCIS he thought the big one was coming (it did not thankfully).

                                                                        Jfood has bigger fish to fry with his "save the world" DNA then tempting fate and stomach distress. Although he thinks chocabot's statement is very well phrased.

                                                                        Different strokes...

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                                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                                          j
                                                                          Janet from Richmond Oct 28, 2009 11:35 AM

                                                                          Well said jfood.....different strokes. And different views and means of making the world a better place.

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                                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                                            c oliver Oct 28, 2009 11:43 AM

                                                                            Honey, we're just so proud that you did it even once. A HUGE thing for jfood, we know.

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                                                                  3. LindaWhit Oct 21, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                                    I'd be livid if someone threw away my own personal food in a company fridge without asking first or letting the staff know that there was going to be a clean-out of the fridge. I'm assuming this food is in containers and they just decide to throw it away because they think it's gone bad (or going to go bad) any day now?

                                                                    Re: expiration date - the only way around that would be to put the jar of mayo/carton of milk in a bag with your name on it and tell people *not* to throw it away.

                                                                    As for food at home - I cook only for myself, but I still often make enough for 3-4 portions. Sometimes it's frozen (chili, stew, sauce, etc.) for eating later. Sometimes not, and I go through having the same thing for a couple of nights' dinners, OR I re-purpose what I made into another new meal (such as a roast chicken). I'm not someone who's going to make a 20 lb. turkey and *not* use it and just throw it away because I'm tired of it (I'd never get a 20-lb. turkey anyway, but just using it as an example). I'd freeze one of the turkey breasts for use a month or so down the road. At Christmas I'll buy a beef tenderloin, but will only cook the portion I think is good for the number of people attending the dinner; the rest gets frozen into smaller portions and used when I desire a beef tenderloin again.

                                                                    The only time I throw something out foodwise is if I've forgotten about it (lettuce is a prime example) and it has gone limp and icky, or if I've left bread out on consecutive warm days and the mold begins to spread.

                                                                    So I'm with you nomad, the amount of food that is wasted (and this goes for restaurants who serve a half lb. of pasta for one person's dish and the person just picks out the chicken/shrimp and eats a normal few bites of the pasta, causing the restaurant to throw away the rest) is astronomical. What I guess I can't understand is why people don't make smaller meals so they aren't throwing away so much food if they're not going to eat leftovers.

                                                                    7 Replies
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                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                      tcamp Oct 21, 2009 07:51 AM

                                                                      There are some scary things in office fridges. Sometimes I'd help out cleaning ours, giving everyone adequate notice, and you'd easily find things months old, completely green and unrecognizable. I chalked it up to food being so cheap, people would willy nilly bring things in and forget all about them. And containers too.

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                                                                      1. re: tcamp
                                                                        LindaWhit Oct 21, 2009 10:01 AM

                                                                        Oh, I know whereof you speak. I'm usually the one who hollers out to all via EMail saying "if it's in there on Friday, it's being tossed! Oh - and so-and-so and such-and-such are helping, as I'm not dealing with this myself!" I think the only way around the office fridge mess is to mandate a Friday cleanout....but being a small company, we don't have a need for that.

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                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        q
                                                                        queencru Oct 21, 2009 10:38 AM

                                                                        I think one issue in the US is that portions are typically much larger than is practical unless you have a huge family. I'm a single person and it's really hard to buy anything that's small enough for a serving or two. While living in Japan and the UK, I found that portion sizes were much more manageable and I didn't have nearly as much waste. I think that's probably because in London and Japan generally, people don't have the same amount of kitchen storage space as we have in the US.

                                                                        For instance, most whole chickens I see in the store in FL that aren't organic are near or over 4lbs, which is enough for a family of 6! Most other prepackaged meat comes in large servings as well and not all of it is easy to divide into smaller freezable servings.

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                                                                        1. re: queencru
                                                                          LindaWhit Oct 21, 2009 10:44 AM

                                                                          How is prepackaged meat (i.e., ground beef, chicken, pork tenderloin, sausages) not easily divided into smaller freezable servings? I often cut pork tenderloins in half, so I have only two meals total from that half. Frankenchicken breasts are cut in half lengthwise for several reasons - (1) so they cook more uniformly, and (2) so I don't have such a large portions. Ground beef is formed into patties and frozen, and I re-package a package of 6 sausages into 3 packages of 2 each. So if I want to make a small portion of meat sauce for my spaghetti, I can take one patty and one package of 2 sausages out of the freezer, cook them with whatever other items I'm tossing in there (onions, mushrooms, etc.), and use it in sauce.

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                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                            q
                                                                            queencru Oct 21, 2009 12:30 PM

                                                                            I said that "not all of it is easy," especially when you're talking a single person who may not need the much larger serving. There are plenty of items that aren't any problem to freeze, but others are much more challenging. There's also the issue of freezer space as well. All I am saying is that it would be a lot easier not to be wasteful if serving sizes weren't made to be huge.

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                                                                            1. re: queencru
                                                                              LindaWhit Oct 21, 2009 12:40 PM

                                                                              True (and I'm lucky to have the additional freezer space with a chest freezer in the basement.) But costs would also rise for the additional packaging for smaller serving sizes and there would be additional trash to throw out. Vicious circle.

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                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                q
                                                                                queencru Oct 21, 2009 12:55 PM

                                                                                I'd rather pay more for a smaller serving. As a single, most of the sizes are just unmanageable and don't take long to fill up a freezer. A lot of food I do freeze ends up being freezer burned before I get to it because I don't want to eat it 6 days in a row.

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                                                                      3. b
                                                                        beevod Oct 21, 2009 08:43 AM

                                                                        There are children starving in Europe.

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                                                                        1. Paulustrious Oct 21, 2009 09:05 AM

                                                                          The self-appointed people who clean out the fridge have a special name - frigilantes.

                                                                          They are the ultimate arbiter of when food is too old. It is impossible to reason with them. The only solution is to mark food with you own name, block out the eat-by date and add a hand-written chuck-out date. I had the same problem when I was working long hours and had to freeze stuff. Some variable time later I would defrost it after the unfit-for-human-consumption date.

                                                                          4 Replies
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                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                            LindaWhit Oct 21, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                                            Sorry - while I'm usually the person who cleans out the fridge, I'm most definitely not a frigilante. I've kept mayo and yogurts way beyond their expiry date, even when others wanted to throw it out.

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                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                              tcamp Oct 21, 2009 11:11 AM

                                                                              In defense of frigilantes (love that name, thanks), they aren't always self appointed. At my last job, the receptionist had to do it monthly. I sometimes helped her, just because I brought my lunch and was pissed that it was completely packed with abandoned crap to the point that us brown-baggers couldn't get anything in.

                                                                              The protocol was to post the cleanup, then remove EVERYTHING left in there, except for items labeled with the owner's name and date. Personally, I'm a notorious ignorer of use-by dates. I just wanted a bit of real estate in that packed fridge.

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                                                                              1. re: tcamp
                                                                                Sooeygun Oct 21, 2009 01:00 PM

                                                                                Sounds somewhat like my office. An email goes around about a week before and then a couple times more leading up the cleanup. I often end up helping, for the same reason as you tcamp. Any unlabeled containers (gladware, tupperware) are free game. If it looks like they will be smelly, they are tossed container and all, but otherwise they are emptied and thrown in the dishwasher and free for the taking. Excessively outdated, unlabeled stuff into the trash. Condiments that are still good are kept.

                                                                                There were some cleanups where you would find multiples of the same lunch in there. Someone didn't like the lunch their spouse/parent made!

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                                                                              2. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                im_nomad Oct 21, 2009 01:18 PM

                                                                                lol, frigilantes, love it....i'll have to remember that one . Perhaps I will try to become the champion against the fridge-forces of evil, and start sneaking off home with those containers of mustard and salad dressings that are seconds from being trashed and replaced with the same size jar, or increasing my bread-crumb portions at home. (btw, my workplace also stores coffee in the freezer, something we go through tonnes of regularly....)

                                                                                I appreciate the fridge-cleaners, I do, I mean, I don't want anything in there to wink at me when I open the door either, and if the types who clean the inside of their toilet tank or scrub the floors on their hands and knees daily, want to come in an clean the work-fridge every couple of days, have at 'er. As said , at least announce, and try to understand other's POV that not everything "expires" a couple of days before some sticker says so.

                                                                                Oddly enough, these are often the same people who bring in loads of food to begin with, or are stocking the fridge with jumbo jars of what not, and others who store the bread on top of the nice warm environment of the fridge. I swear, I see them hiding in dark corners waiting to pounce and trash. ;)

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                                                                              3. cuccubear Oct 21, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                                                I’m on the bandwagon against food waste too, it’s been a peeve of mine for years. I admit I’m guilty of it sometimes. I hate it when food goes moldy or inedible because we didn’t use it in a timely manner, but that’s pretty rare seeing how we transform our leftovers into many meals.

                                                                                Food wasting practices that annoy me:

                                                                                1. The half inch of soda left at the bottom of a 2 Liter bottle – a lot of people throw it out because, boo hoo, it’s flat.

                                                                                2. Walking away from a table of food in a restaurant because “I’m full.” – Box it up…I’m not ashamed to do that, even the bread and garnishes.

                                                                                3. Ever look in the trash can at a picnic and see plates and bowls with spoonful’s of baked beans or potato salad still on them, not to mention meat and bread? – Take what you’ll eat, and eat what you’ve taken!

                                                                                In my mind, wasting food is not only a waste of resources, energy and money but it creates more garbage and pollution.

                                                                                15 Replies
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                                                                                1. re: cuccubear
                                                                                  paulj Oct 21, 2009 10:27 AM

                                                                                  Isn't the 'eat what you've taken' a good step toward getting overweight?

                                                                                  Why should we worry about an inch of flavored sugar water? Is it really doing more good in someone's bloodstream than in the trash? Should that pop go to waste, or to someone's waist?

                                                                                  As to restaurant boxes, not everyone is in a position to use those leftovers. Sure, if you are going straight home, with a fridge or dog waiting to disposed of the food, it makes some sense. But what if you are staying in a hotel (without fridge), or walking to a theater down the street? Will you take a Styrofoam box of leftovers with you? What do you do with that packaging? Eat that too, or toss it your home trash?

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                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    Janet from Richmond Oct 21, 2009 10:32 AM

                                                                                    Well said. Sunday night my brother came over and made me dinner. Beef brisket, mashed potatoes, salad and a pumpkin-coconut pie. There was salad left....that was thrown out. Today I had some of the leftover beef & the mashed potatoes for lunch. Tonight I will dispose of the remaining 1/3 pie since I don't want to indulge in the calories.

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                                                                                    1. re: paulj
                                                                                      cuccubear Oct 21, 2009 11:12 AM

                                                                                      The “eat what you’ve taken” remark was aimed at wasteful people who load their plates at a picnic, cookout or buffet and then don’t eat it. I’ve done it myself, and regretted taking a larger helping than I should have.

                                                                                      I don’t advocate cramming in food either just to prevent waste, but in my case, I learned that I really don’t need that second helping or as big a serving as I used to think. If I can’t finish it and it’s inconvenient to box it up, so be it. In my case, I try to think ahead and order accordingly. That may not be very spontaneous, but I’m content if I didn’t leave a plate of food behind to be thrown away.

                                                                                      As for the soda, I realize it’s junk food and really pretty expendable, but while you’re pouring it, why not just finish it off, it’s only a sip or two more?

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                                                                                      1. re: cuccubear
                                                                                        j
                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 21, 2009 11:18 AM

                                                                                        I'm pretty good at judging how much I want to eat. Most of the time if I throw out something from a buffet, cookout or the like it's because something looked good and I ended up not liking it.

                                                                                        And chances are post meal, whatever is left in the pots is going to get thrownout anyway.

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                                                                                      2. re: paulj
                                                                                        Scargod Oct 21, 2009 11:57 AM

                                                                                        Take what you’ll eat, and eat what you’ve taken! is a sound principal and worth trying to observe. Sure, you should stop when you are full. Most adults, have figured that (intake amount), out.
                                                                                        When I was young we were poor. Once, relatives came over for a meal. Meat was usually scarce on our table. Some of our cousins grabbed up extra hamburgers and didn't eat them. We were taught not to do that; we were taught to take just what we knew we could eat and share. Some of us were still hungry and there were those hamburgers... sitting on those kids plates with just a bite out of them.

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                                                                                        1. re: Scargod
                                                                                          Paulustrious Oct 21, 2009 12:25 PM

                                                                                          And you were scarred for life? I had the same background in post world-war UK. The concept of too much to eat was laughable. I didn't even have a hamburger until I was 19. The attitudes instilled then still linger. Give me a child's hunger until he is seven and I will give you the adult?

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                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                            JerryMe Oct 21, 2009 06:28 PM

                                                                                            I am guilty as an adult - I over-ordered excellent food this am (taco and tamale) and finished it as neither was going to come home and taste good later. 10 hours later I still don't want to eat. It was very good food and yes, I still carry the "scars" of hunger into adulthood.

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                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                              Scargod Oct 22, 2009 03:28 PM

                                                                                              Yes, I am the God of scars. It is ironic that I was "Scargo" (Look at that "S" car go!), and then I add a D to the end because I lost my Chowhound password and my email address had changed.
                                                                                              I do have lots of scars both seen and unseen. Really didn't do that on purpose.
                                                                                              I have money and food now, but the lessons learned linger. Money can make for some weak people who cannot help anyone up.

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                                                                                            2. re: Scargod
                                                                                              g
                                                                                              gryphonskeeper Oct 22, 2009 11:34 AM

                                                                                              Scargod, I too did not have the luxury of meat when I was child except in rare occasions. I also remember looking at barely eaten food being tossed in the trash with wide eyes and I had been known to take the burger left behind and wrap it in a napkin and eat it later. I am scarred from starvation as a child, I never like seeing food wasted, to me it is akin to a sin to throw away food. What others do, I cannot stop, but I can do my part.

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                                                                                            3. re: paulj
                                                                                              im_nomad Oct 21, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                                                              but really if you wanted to conscientious about that issue in restaurants, you would / could at least try to plan accordingly. Now I get it that there are times when you order a dish and it's massive, but if you know you don't have a fridge at the hotel, or are going elsewhere, ask your server how large the portions are, or order an appetizer or something if you're not that hungry.

                                                                                              re: Janet from Richmond & pie.... in that situation, i'd cart the pie into work, and let others who do wish to indulge, or perhaps don't bake and/or don't get sweets, have it if they wish.

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                                                                                              1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                paulj Oct 21, 2009 01:50 PM

                                                                                                In any case, I would not be happy if I knew someone was making moral judgments about me based solely on the food I left on my plate.

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                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                  Scargod Oct 21, 2009 02:26 PM

                                                                                                  It's a tough call. I don't know you from Adam-j or j-food. I don't think we will have the food police anytime soon. Who's to know if the food you left was "bad" (by who's standards?), they served an enormous amount (and you had no way of knowing), or you just had your stomach stapled... and didn't realize how little you could eat.

                                                                                                  As we get older, SO and I have taken to eating appetizers as mains. We eat tapas and stop when we are full. There are lots of options, so I don't buy the excuse that you have to order appetizers, an entree AND dessert, and not eat half the entree and then throw it away when you get home (if you bother to get take away in the first place).
                                                                                                  Then throw food away because it is boring?

                                                                                                  Many Chowhounds claim to cook. Deconstructing or reinventing leftovers is a real cook's challenge! I've done some really fine tacos, wraps and pasta dishes with leftovers and take-away. Fresh rice and a sauce and leftovers become magnificent dishes with nuanced tastes (like using the smoked ribs for a chile rellenos stuffing). Soups! Sheesh, the options are endless.
                                                                                                  I think it is admirable of im_nomad to try and raise the consciousness of Chowhounds. Here-here!

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                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Oct 21, 2009 02:37 PM

                                                                                                    Great! I actually don't have "leftovers". I make a lot that a large part is meant to be frozen and eaten over time. I often roast chickens - and use the meat (shredded or in pieces) for many things over the next week.

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                                                                                                    1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                      paulj Oct 21, 2009 03:05 PM

                                                                                                      In a restaurant, especially a fancy one, are we paying just for the food? Especially food measured in utilitarian terms like calories or weight? The cost of the ingredients is going to be a third or less of the total bill. Most of what we pay for are the intangibles, the service, the ambiance, the whole experience. On a per-calorie basis, you are like to spend more ordering tapas and an entree and sides. Unless you eat the original tapas, which were just bar food served on top of your glass of sherry. :)

                                                                                                      In a sense, the chef, staff and owners, are amply rewarded as long as you pay for your food, and appreciate it, regardless of how much you leave on the plate. Waiters are more interested what you leave beside the plate, than on it :)

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                                                                                                  2. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                    Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 05:54 AM

                                                                                                    I work alone. My brother brought the pie over Sunday for my belated birthday dinner. I did not bake it.

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                                                                                              2. h
                                                                                                Harters Oct 21, 2009 02:29 PM

                                                                                                I can't afford to be other than good with buying, making sure we eat by "use by" and leftovers. Waste is not a financial option, let alone an ethicial one.

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                                                                                                1. re: Harters
                                                                                                  Sam Fujisaka Oct 21, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                                                  Can't agree with you more!

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                                                                                                2. alanbarnes Oct 21, 2009 06:24 PM

                                                                                                  "Why are people so scared of their food?"

                                                                                                  It's not fear, it's selfishness and an overweening sense of entitlement. Couple that with a culture that views food as a commodity and has lost all sense of where it came from, and it becomes okay to throw food away.

                                                                                                  When "beef" is something that comes sliced from the deli case for $X a pound, the question is whether it's worth a few bucks to let it rot while you indulge yourself in something that sounds better at the moment. When beef is an animal that was killed to feed you, the question shifts from an economic one to one of morality.

                                                                                                  Regardless of your financial situation, wasting food is immoral. Take it to work and share it with the staff, leave it near a public trash receptacle where a homeless person can find it, feed it to your dog, whatever. But in a world where people are starving, there's no excuse for throwing food away.

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                                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                    c oliver Oct 21, 2009 06:31 PM

                                                                                                    Thank you, Alan.

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                                                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                      Scargod Oct 21, 2009 06:38 PM

                                                                                                      Your comments remind me of a recent visit to Austin. We had leftover food from a nice dining experience. We were staying in a hotel and couldn't store or re-heat the food. However, I could not see good food go in the trash. We took it down the street and gave it to a homeless person. There are many options. Those with refrigerators are fortunate.

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                                                                                                      1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                        c oliver Oct 21, 2009 06:41 PM

                                                                                                        Thank you too --- that was YOU not SHE :) I've done that alot in SF.

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                                                                                                      2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                        paulj Oct 21, 2009 06:42 PM

                                                                                                        How does my clean plate save other people from starvation?

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                                                                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                                                                          alanbarnes Oct 21, 2009 07:05 PM

                                                                                                          First off, I never said it did. The incremental effect of you putting your food to good use is minimal. Similarly, if you were to switch to a more fuel-efficient car it wouldn't make a difference in oil consumption that's noticeable at a global level. It's when behaviors change on a societal scale that we begin to see real differences.

                                                                                                          But if you only make / order / take as much as you care to eat, there's that much more left for the rest of the world. Ditto if you end up with too much and make your leftovers into a second meal. Not too difficult a concept, really.

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                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                            alanbarnes Oct 22, 2009 09:07 AM

                                                                                                            A timely article in today's New York Times:

                                                                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/wor...

                                                                                                            "Scientists and development experts across the globe are racing to increase food production by 50 percent over the next two decades to feed the world’s growing population, yet many doubt their chances despite a broad consensus that enough land, water and expertise exist.

                                                                                                            The number of hungry people in the world rose to 1.02 billion this year, or nearly one in seven people, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, despite a 12-year concentrated effort to cut the number. "

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                                                                                                          2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                            cinnamon girl Oct 29, 2009 02:51 PM

                                                                                                            Yes! It's not about finances. It's as you say, immoral to deliberately waste.

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                                                                                                          3. corneygirl Oct 21, 2009 09:28 PM

                                                                                                            I think a big thing is that many people (US) don't consider how much of the earths limited resources contribute. Not just fertilizers, pesticides, and gas milage. Over consumption in developed nations leads directly to environmental degradation and commoditization of human resources in less developed nations. Those of us who live in the US don't think what is happening far away to make this food appear on our plates. It isn't that we should feel guitly, but we need to be cognizant about what we consume and how it is produced. Wasting food is disrespectful to the people who produced it, and the land that it was grown on.

                                                                                                            I'm not advocating a specific diet, just awareness of what are imputs and effects of consuming the way we do.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
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                                                                                                            1. re: corneygirl
                                                                                                              c oliver Oct 22, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                                                                              Very well written. Before I saw your name, I thought SAM had written it. You know THAT'S a compliment :)

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                                                                                                            2. g
                                                                                                              givemecarbs Oct 21, 2009 11:06 PM

                                                                                                              I see this too nomad and I don't get it either. Weren't some of the yummiest comfort dishes originally invented to use up leftovers? Like toast, french toast, grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable soup, lasagna, fried rice, bread pudding potato pancakes, hash browns, home fries, and on and on? Leftovers are a source of inspiration for me, I have three leftover fried chicken breasts in my fridge right now and I'm feeling dizzy from all the possibilities. I know Thanksgiving has come and gone for you already this year but I was just thinking that I love the day after thanksgiving. All the pleasure of a great plate of food and none of the work. And microwaves have made enjoying leftovers so much easier. Especially with the bad economy and people trying to economize, this just doesn't make sense to waste good food. I try to mind my own business but when I see half a pizza left at a restaurant, or once even most of a large filet steak, my eyes practically pop out of my head. Of course the dark side of all this is the clean your plate syndrome. My one girlfriend has been unhappy about her weight all her life. The last time I had dinner with her at a bar, after we both declared ourselves "stuffed" I watched her quickly and joylessly scarf up the leftover french fries on her plate as if she was a human dustbuster or something. I'm creative, but I've never been able to think of anything to do with cold leftover french fries but leave them there to be thrown out. Could it be that your co-workers think of all that beautiful food as clutter?

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                                                                                                              1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                c oliver Oct 22, 2009 07:59 AM

                                                                                                                We have close friends who live a couple hours drive from us and are allergic to cats and dogs so we don't see them as often as we like. We will sometimes drive down and have breakfast at a local diner. They each order great big breakfasts and then eat about half. She told me that they would never be able to share cause they wouldn't be able to find something that they both like. I was, like, (silently) for goodness sake, it's breakfast. Do you want your eggs fried or scrambled, sausage or bacon? It's just not that hard, people.

                                                                                                                And I gotta say if the amount is sufficient, we always take home leftover fries (from a shared lunch at that). Put into a 350 oven on a baking sheet and 10 minutes later you may have something as good as or better than the original, if the originals were a little limp.

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                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                  Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                                                                                  It's not about it being hard. One of the great things about going out with others is being able to get what you want. Why should someone apologize for that? There's a difference in being prudent and being fanantical.

                                                                                                                  My Dh likes his eggs over medium or poached. I like mine in an omelet or quiche with lots of stuff. I don't think we are evil because we don't want to share.

                                                                                                                  And I would never take fries home simply because they are a rare treat. Not something I eat several times a day or week.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                    im_nomad Oct 22, 2009 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                    chop them up for hash browns, I suppose is also an option.

                                                                                                                    @ givemecarbs, I totally agree with the recipe inspiration, I stated this as well above, that we wouldn't have a number of wonderful recipes if the need to use up scraps or things that were starting to go off.

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                                                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                      givemecarbs Oct 22, 2009 04:31 PM

                                                                                                                      Thanks for a great thread nomad! So far with the huge fried chicken breasts I have made chicken sandwiches and enhanced some already good quality canned chicken noodle soup from wegmans. There is still a bit of meat left, it's just a matter if I'm in the mood for a barbecued chicken sandwich or creamed chicken on toast. It feels like getting my meals almost for free! Wheee!

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                                                                                                                    2. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                      givemecarbs Oct 22, 2009 04:26 PM

                                                                                                                      Thanks c oliver! I will try that with the fries. My friend and I go to a diner for breakfast sometimes and we always end up asking for at least one to go container. I think we are the only ones to do that at breakfast. Breakfast leftovers make yummy snacks!

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                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                        Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 07:49 PM

                                                                                                                        Why don't your friends simply ask for half the hash browns or no hash browns, or only one slice of toast. That is what I do when I am feeling like I just don't need all those potatoes... Because, unlike your friends, I know that once all those potatoes are put in front of me, I will not be able to resist. And that is not a good thing, either!!!

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                                                                                                                    3. l
                                                                                                                      latindancer Oct 21, 2009 11:27 PM

                                                                                                                      I'm not sure if people are 'scared of their food'.
                                                                                                                      I'm not sure what it is but I agree with your observation.
                                                                                                                      I do know that people who lived through the depression, and then raised their own children after enduring the hardships. were very resourceful when it came to leftover food. They used every single ounce of food, some way or another, until it was gone.
                                                                                                                      There was simply not the waste like we see it today. We live in a very spoiled, over indulged, throw away society.

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                                                                                                                      1. l
                                                                                                                        latindancer Oct 21, 2009 11:44 PM

                                                                                                                        There is so much waste, as you say.
                                                                                                                        Daily I drive by homes with trees loaded with avocados or lemons or oranges, grapefruits and apples, etc...just sitting there without anyone picking them for use. The fruit falls to the ground and either rots or the animals eat it.
                                                                                                                        I know someone with an orchard of plum trees and they advertise for someone to come and pick the massive amounts of fruit and nobody will.

                                                                                                                        8 Replies
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                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                          paulj Oct 22, 2009 12:17 AM

                                                                                                                          Do you pick your share of these fruits?

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                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                                            latindancer Oct 22, 2009 07:09 AM

                                                                                                                            I wish I could. I don't live in the same state she does.

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                                                                                                                          2. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                            h
                                                                                                                            Harters Oct 22, 2009 01:47 AM

                                                                                                                            The brother-in-law comes from Mallorca (he's there now on holiday). The area around his village is traditionally a citrus fruit growing area (as well as almonds and olives). This was small scale production with produce being sold in the markets in the island's towns and, I believe, also shipped to the mainland. However, the influence of supermarkets (and the world wide market) now means that the growers cannot get a decent price for their crops and it has simply become not worth picking. As latindancer's experience, the fruit is just left to rot while, presumably, the farmer's neighbours pop down their local Carrefour to buy oranges.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                              Paulustrious Oct 22, 2009 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                              There is a scheme in Toronto where you can 'donate' your tree. Volunteers pick the fruit. A third goes to you, a third to the volunteer and a third to the food bank.

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                                                                                                                              1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                im_nomad Oct 22, 2009 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                I love this idea !

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                                                                                                                                1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                  Paulustrious Oct 22, 2009 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                  Well if you want to duplicate it elsewhere I am sure these guys would help you; they may even let you have a copy of their website as well.

                                                                                                                                  http://www.notfarfromthetree.org/about

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                                                                                                                              2. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                gryphonskeeper Oct 22, 2009 11:48 AM

                                                                                                                                When I go to Florida to visit my MIL, she was a Star Fruit tree and a mango tree... I strip them down to the last fruit, I take home as many as I can carry in a cooler, and the rest we leave on a table out front with a "TAKE SOME" sign. It works like a charm, they are always gone in a day. The problem is people don't like to come onto other people property and pick the tree... but if its on a table marked free take one, they go like hotcakes.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                                                  latindancer Oct 22, 2009 12:25 PM

                                                                                                                                  "The problem is people don't like to come onto other people 's property and pick the tree....but if its on a table marked free take one, they go like hotcakes"..

                                                                                                                                  Oh, if that were only true and in your case with your MIL it is.
                                                                                                                                  The friend I'm talking about, with her plum orchard, has put out 'pick for free' signs, put signs around town for the same, called and advertised for shelters and everything else imaginable to get people to take the fruit.
                                                                                                                                  It wasn't always like that however....within the last ten years it's changed. People used to drive from miles around to not only pick it but pay for it...
                                                                                                                                  I'd take tons of them but in California nobody is allowed to bring fruit into the state so...

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                                                                                                                              3. ipsedixit Oct 22, 2009 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                The word "waste" is quite a judgmental word, bordering on being divisive in this context.

                                                                                                                                There are many reasons why a person would choose to throw away food, as opposed to eating it. E.g., (1) it just doesn't taste good; (2) allergies; (3) interactions with medicine; (4) religious or cultural reasons, such as keeping Kosher or being a vegetarian, etc.

                                                                                                                                Whether one chooses to discard edible food or not, I think when we talk about "wasting" food we are really addressing the symptoms and not the cause.

                                                                                                                                With a little planning and budgeting I think alot of the so-called "waste" could be mitigated, if not eliminated entirely.

                                                                                                                                Instead of buying perishables in bulk, why not just buy enough to last you the week, or for a few days? I think many of us have been "Costco-ized" and brainwashed into believeing that just because the cost/unit is lower when buying in quantity it is necessarily the "better" buy.

                                                                                                                                As for leftovers from prepared foods, personally I always try to make *less* than what I think I will eat. At least for me, this serves two purposes. It keeps me from having to deal with leftovers (although not entirely because sometimes leftovers just happens), and it also prevents overeating or overindulging.

                                                                                                                                I certainly don't condone throwing out perfectly good food, but I can also empathize with someone like Janet from Richmond -- regardless of your social mores, no one should be crucified because they simply do not want to eat perfectly good food.

                                                                                                                                But like I said above, alot of the so-called wast that "im_nomad" refers can be mitigated, if not eliminated entirely, with a little planning beforehand.

                                                                                                                                Just my 0.02.

                                                                                                                                Cheers.

                                                                                                                                33 Replies
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                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                  c oliver Oct 22, 2009 10:27 AM

                                                                                                                                  It was certainly not MY intention to participate in a crucifixion. But I think morality can be definied many ways. Perhaps someone knowingly ordering or cooking more than they will ever eat could be defined as a type of it. Or couldnt't it at least be called waste which I think all would agree is not good for the planet? Just because someone can afford something doesn't necessarily make it right, does it? If my husband and I couldn't share breakfast, I'd order one soft-poached egg with a slice of toast and some tomatoes or something. Or the smaller meals that most breakfast places offer. When by myself, I've also asked for one instead of two pieces of toast, no potatoes, whatever. A by-myself-out non-breakfast meal is the same. Just because certain things are included doesn't mean that I wouldn't or couldn't or shouldn't ask them to leave it off. Whether someone is hosing down their driveway or throwing food out, isn't waste just, well, wasteful?

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                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                    pikawicca Oct 22, 2009 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                    There was a restaurant here (briefly) that sold breakfast by the item: 1,2, or 3 eggs, strips of bacon, sausage patties, toast. Small, medium, or large order of hash browns, etc. Maybe the menu was just too weird for most folks. At any rate, the place folded.

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                                                                                                                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                                    DeppityDawg Oct 22, 2009 11:05 AM

                                                                                                                                    The four reasons you give are valid, but they don't lead to habitual throwing out of food. Nobody repeatedly prepares or orders food that they don't like or can't eat.

                                                                                                                                    The behavior mentioned earlier in this thread involved frequently choosing to produce an excessive quantity of food and discarding the leftovers as a matter of course in order to move on to the next thing. I can empathize with the desire to live like that. I cannot empathize with the choice of actually doing it, and I find the arguments presented to rationalize this choice repellent. If that's divisive, it's a division I wish to maintain.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg
                                                                                                                                      c oliver Oct 22, 2009 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                                      YES!!!

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg
                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                        I have no issue with the division. I'm still not going to eat ice cream that looks like Luray Caverns or reheated shrimp if I don't have to. We each have our choices, values and peeves.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                          c oliver Oct 22, 2009 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                          This is a thread ABOUT wasting food. You choose to, others don't. It isn't about anyone "choices, values and peeves." It's about waste. And there's a dialogue going on and yours is one voice. Only one.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                            j
                                                                                                                                            Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                                            Never said otherwise. And my one voice is just as valid as yours. Yes, I choose to throw away food when I don't want it. It may be the end of a sandwich and I'm full or 1/2 cup of leftover rice or whatever. And I don't think I am alone in that (not using that as a justification, just an observation) or that makes me immoral. If you believe otherwise, that is okay.

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                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                                              givemecarbs Oct 22, 2009 05:53 PM

                                                                                                                                              He he! There was a thread on cooking at home and Janet weighed in on that too. I enjoyed her comments immensely on that discussion as they were very memorable. There is something about the opposing point of view that helps the threads stay interesting.

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                                                                                                                                            2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                              LindaWhit Oct 22, 2009 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                                              I think what DD is referring to is deliberately choosing to cook much more food for a meal being cooked at home than you and/or your family can eat within a reasonable amount of time or in a reasonable number of leftover meals. You end up throwing a good portion of it out, so you're consciously choosing to waste food. (Not food you eat out and choose not to bring home.)

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                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 11:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                I don't think of it as deliberate (Oh, let's buy this ham and I can't wait to throw it out), but when it's time for something to go...it's time for it to go. We generally keep a ham in the frig. Ham lasts a long time. Now, if we're getting to the end of the ham and I'm making beans, etc. the hock goes in. If not, it does not.

                                                                                                                                                When I make seafood lasagna I try to make it when we have people over, but if not, I hate, hate, hate it reheated. When I make shrimp creole sometimes there is a small amount left. Other times there is not. I'm not going to reheat and eat chewy shrimp because c oliver thinks I should <g>.

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                                                                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                  LindaWhit Oct 22, 2009 12:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                  No, that is not your intent (and I wouldn't want chewy shrimp either). But if past history has shown that getting too large of a roast for the holidays leaves you with leftovers you won't eat, wouldn't it be more prudent to buy a smaller roast?

                                                                                                                                                  You noted in your first post above that you don't like "less than fresh" and don't like leftovers as you get tired of them. But then you say here "ham lasts a long time." It's just a bit contradictory. So are some food items are eaten over a long period of time (ham) and some aren't?

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                                    Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 12:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Ham lasts a month. Most other meats do not. Leftover roasts are generally not an issue (as I stated in my first post....as well as things like meatloaf or lasagna), most of what is discarded is produce (lettuce and cucumbers especially) and things like leftover couscous or pasta or seafood dishes, such as shrimp creole. And when I say leftover, it's not 1/2 pound of shrimp, but something like 3 or 4 shrimp, some rice and sauce. Or like today, I found some dregs of shredded cheddar that were moldy...I tossed that. It was probably an ounce of two.

                                                                                                                                                    When we have beef tenderloin at Christmas (or throughout the year) leftovers aren't a big deal as we all love beef. Usually it becomes beef stroganoff and later beef sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                    But when I don't want something, I don't feel guilty for not eating it. Just as don't feel guilty for ordering something to share with Dh every time we go out.

                                                                                                                                                    OTOH, takeout pizza comes to mind as something I often buy more of simply to have leftover as I love leftover pizza. Leftover Chinese food blows and therefore it gets pitched, but I don't order extra either.

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                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                    c oliver Oct 22, 2009 12:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                    (Using a jfood technique without permissioin :) ) c oliver prefers that people not put words in her mouth. While others are more erudite than I, I think I do a decent job of saying what I mean.

                                                                                                                                                    As LindaWhit wrote, there's a really big difference between a half cup of rice and the end of a sandwich and throwing out LOTS of food as you stated. A huge difference actually.

                                                                                                                                                    BTW, those prepared rice mixes can be split quite easily prior to cooking. Just a little FWIW.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                      Janet from Richmond Oct 22, 2009 12:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Thank c oliver. I feel so much better. Of course we eat about 3/4 box, so I should just make that and then keep drips and drabs of the 1/4 remaining and store them for future use. No thanks. And by lots of food (just for clarification) I don't mean a large quantity of any one thing as a rule, but small quantities of lots of things. Every Monday I clean out the frig and freezer.

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                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                        LindaWhit Oct 22, 2009 03:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                        That's what I was looking for - some clarification as to LOTS. "LOTS" to me means buying that 20 lb. turkey to serve 4 people, and throwing away the rest because you don't like leftovers.

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                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                          Paulustrious Oct 22, 2009 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                          By the time I eventually finished our turkey I didn't like leftovers.

                                                                                                                                                          And I am very frequently guilty of something I will call Chinese Supermarket Syndrome. So celery today was 1-49 each OR two for $2. What would you have done?

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                            LindaWhit Oct 22, 2009 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                            So celery today was 1-49 each OR two for $2. What would you have done?
                                                                                                                                                            ~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                            Just the one. As tempting as the pricing was for 2, I can't go through that much celery before it goes bad. Would rather pay more. :-)

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                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                              c oliver Oct 22, 2009 06:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Hmm. I use so little celery that I've been known to buy individual stalks. I pay more but waste none. However, if the weather's right, I'd probably plan some soups and stews and buy two.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                LindaWhit Oct 22, 2009 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                When I'm in a store that sells them individually, I always buy them that way. But on occasion, I have to buy the pre-packaged ones if I'm not near a store that does sell them individually. But the packaged "bunches" come in handy if I need them as a veg in a quick stir-fry, or I need a mirepoix for stock or a stew/pot roast.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                  paulj Oct 22, 2009 10:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I've never seen individual celery stalks for sale. I have bought celery hearts, usually 2 or 3 per package. But when I can buy a whole 'head' for less than a dollar, I don't see much point in worrying about waste. I use what I can, but don't worry about tossing limp stalks that I never got around to using.

                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder what happens to the outer stalks of the hearts. Do they all go into cans of condensed cream of celery soup?

                                                                                                                                                                  And what about the ugly torn outer leaves of Romaine lettuce heads?

                                                                                                                                                                  I wonder if there are any realistic estimates of the amount of produce that is discarded, for one reason or the other, before it reaches the consumers' home. I suspect there is a correlation between how nice the produce appears on the grocery (or farmer's market) shelf, and how much gets tossed because it isn't salable.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                    c oliver Oct 23, 2009 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    I just checked and see you live in Seattle. I am SO surprised you haven't seen individual stalks and the entire "plant" (what is the whole thing top to bottom called?). I see both of those all the time and the hearts alone only most of the time. Do you shop at the chains, Freddies, Safeway, etc?

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                      paulj Oct 23, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      I stay away from most of the chains, because of an aversion to their 'club card' mentality. I still use Top, a regional chain, for some things that only a large, regular grocery carries. But most of my produce comes from a pan-ethnic produce 'stand', and Asian chains like 99Ranch and HMart, and to lesser degree Trader Joes.

                                                                                                                                                                      If I really wanted to minimize the vegetable waste at home I'd buy it all from TJs, where I can get leeks already trimmed, and cut up squash in microwaveable bags. There is always a bag of their green beans from France in my freezer. But I wouldn't be saving the planet or starving children that way.

                                                                                                                                                                      HMart, a NJ based Korean chain, has a good prices and attractive displays of their produce. I've also observed their employees arrange that produce, with garbage can and knife at hand. The bruised lettuce leaves ended up in their garbage instead of mine.

                                                                                                                                                                      Generally the produce stand has the best prices. But I also have to choose items with care, since they aren't as careful to toss the wilted and bruised ones.

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't like to waste food, but even more so I don't like to waste money or time.

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                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj
                                                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                                                      cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 02:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Well ... not wasting isn't just about the money. I sympathize tho' b/c it's hard to work thru' an entire head of celery. Can you put the unused limp stalks in your bag of chicken bones - which you have in your freezer with which to make stock? Also in this bag are the stems and unused bits of some kinds of herbs - which nicely flavour the stock? I tend not to buy it that often b/c of the waste issue; I don't like it in everything the way some people do. I've often wished I could find individual stalks and hearts for sale.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                        Miss Needle Oct 28, 2009 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Do you have salad bars at your supermarkets or delis? When I need a little bit of celery, I just get it from a salad bar.

                                                                                                                                                                        I also find that a head of celery lasts in the fridge for quite some time -- about a month or so.

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                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                                                                    thinks too much Oct 23, 2009 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    The SO was shopping one day, and the woman behind him said that she could never get through a bunch of celery without it wilting. (Just chatting idly). After agreeing, he broke his bunch in half and gave one half to her. I was so charmed by that story!

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                                                                                      Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 08:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      That is a great story (and quick thinking your SO's part).

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                        gryphonskeeper Oct 23, 2009 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        I actually LOVE celery, and use all of the entire package well before they even get soft. I make a lot of soups, and always use celery to season the broth.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thinks too much
                                                                                                                                                                          im_nomad Oct 23, 2009 01:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          SO gets a brownie point , I can see why you were charmed. Alot of people probably wouldn't even talk to someone else in line, never mind hand over half their celery !

                                                                                                                                                                          While we're on the topic of celery, I too use limp bits in stir fries, as well as the fennel stalks in curries. I have fond memories of a few Easter dinners with side dishes of glazed carrots and celery. I like celery best when it's cooked anyway.

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                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 05:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        I hate celery so that would be easy...hehehe....but I know what you mean. I would buy the one. I often pay as a lesser value in order to reduce the quantity.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                                          s
                                                                                                                                                                          Sisyphus Oct 23, 2009 05:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          An easy trick to "revive" celery that is starting to wilt is to cut and clean the stalks and then place them in ice water. (I usually use a large cup and stand them up in it). I usually do it overnight for the maximum results. And it works for carrots too.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sisyphus
                                                                                                                                                                            Paulustrious Oct 24, 2009 04:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Your trick works for most vegetables that go soft. Although ice is not needed for the osmotic effect. Broccoli is also an excellent candidate. Most vegetables 'repair' themselves where they have been cut / harvested, so this scar tissue has to be removed to allow the water to be sucked back into the plant.

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                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                                              im_nomad Oct 22, 2009 01:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                              hmmmm... well, I can only speak for myself, but I am fairly certain that I have not set out to "crucify" anyone, judge them as "evil" or chuckle insanely while everyone on the board starting taking jabs at each other. Haven't seen anyone drawn and quartered yet.

                                                                                                                                                              Unless I missed a lot of deleted comments while I was at work today, I mostly see opinions, as well as a few tips on how to stretch items or turn them into something new, for people who like to do so.

                                                                                                                                                              For me, the circumstances I describe in my OP as well as a few others here, bother me (no I do not get into it with people or actively recruit). I do try to make myself a bit more aware of my impact on the world, and for the most part, as long as I feel I am making some small contribution, it's all good.

                                                                                                                                                              FWIW, I happen to be eating some pumpkin chipotle soup that is mighty good. Half of the ingredients came out of the back of the freezer, almost forgotten about. Nothing tastes "off" whatsoever.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                                                c oliver Oct 22, 2009 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I love it when the OP checks back in. I know you don't REALLY own the thread but still.... Waste is waste. You can choose to do it or not but it's still waste. Oh, and a combo of pumpkin and chipotle sounds might fine. As someone upthread said, since I became a true Chowhound, even less goes to waste than did previously. It not only tastes good but I'm doing a little good. Win-win.

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                                                                                                                                                            3. cassoulady Oct 22, 2009 12:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                              here is my wisdom for the day- buying and preparing food is like buying paint to paint a room. at first, you get too much and dont know what to do with the extra paint. Then you learn not only how to buy closer to the amount you need but also how to creatively use the extra paint so it doesnt sit around collection dust.

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                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cassoulady
                                                                                                                                                                Paulustrious Oct 22, 2009 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                But primer I buy by the 5 gallon tub. The food analogy could be 3 litre cans of olive oil or those huge tubs of Greek feta in brine that last for ever.

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                                                                                                                                                              2. l
                                                                                                                                                                lgss Oct 22, 2009 03:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                One would think that in these economic times people would be more frugal....
                                                                                                                                                                Better not use these at your workplace...
                                                                                                                                                                http://www.vidafine.com/blog/2009/05/...
                                                                                                                                                                be sure to scroll down.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. shaogo Oct 22, 2009 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  We weren't really hungry when I was a kid, but we didn't have a lot. We wasted very, very little, if anything food-wise. So I really hate waste.

                                                                                                                                                                  My early experience in the restaurant business was with a German chef who was very, very frugal. He and I got along well because we were both of the same opinion about waste. Needless to say I was not very popular with the other personnel in the kitchen, because all they wanted to do at the end of the night is throw everything away and give the pots to the dishwasher -- they sure didn't want to wrap stuff up to use the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                  Later, as a manager, I was astounded to see what was thrown away in less frugal restaurants. Bowls of salad -- that could've been used for the next day's lunch -- gallons of wholesome soups, stews and sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                  Now, I'm in the Chinese restaurant business. Wow! I think the fact that we *use every last thing* is one of the reasons I decided to operate Chinese restaurants. We use every bit of every chicken, duck, piece of beef or piece of pork. Trimmings get ground into dumpling filling. Bones make stock. Produce is carefully inventoried, and that which is, let's say, blemished, is used for staff meals (which are quite varied and always delicious). Just three years ago, a company started taking our waste oil -- for free (we used to have to pay to get it taken away). What do they do with it? They run a fleet of trucks that use spent vegetable oil for fuel.

                                                                                                                                                                  What I just don't understand (but accept, nonetheless) is that some of my customers are very happy taking a few bites of a lovely (and sometimes expensive) meal, and then, without complaint, announce that they don't need a doggie bag -- that it's "okay," that they were'nt as hungry as they thought. Wow. If for some reason I find I've over-ordered in a restaurant, naturally I'm going to ask to take it home.

                                                                                                                                                                  That's just my two cents about waste.

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, about the office refrigerator. I've only had two jobs where there was a communal, office fridge. They were invariably cramped with all manner of crap that was ancient. An office should clean the fridge twice a month, at least, and toss anything that hasn't been named and dated by the owner. Else the fridge is gonna get funky. Perhaps the people the OP refers to were a little over-zealous about tossing stuff. That'll happen when someone needs to prove what a "clean" person they are, and then goes about throwing out milk or cottage cheese that's a single day beyond the "sell-by" date. These folks would like others to believe that they do the same at home. Not so, sometimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. Cherylptw Oct 22, 2009 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    I've been without food a few times a long time ago and it does stay with you, even after you get past that situation. I can't stand waste. I try not to throw anything out and my kids, now grown pretty much follow the same path. I also think that the fact that my grandparents farmed & raised much of their own food allowed me to take advantage of fresh food & to appreciate the hard work it takes to get our food from ground to table. Also, my grandmother turned out mouthwatering meals without setting foot in a grocery store a lot of times, which was amazing.

                                                                                                                                                                    Growing up, you'd better not sit at my grandfather's table and take food you wasn't going to eat. He didn't believe in that crap. And my mother didn't either. I remember not liking eggs when I was a kid and if we had eggs, I'd fall asleep at the table before she'd let me leave.

                                                                                                                                                                    That said, there have been times when I've had to throw something out because it wasn't finished before it went bad. And I don't like leftover french fries, but eat just about any other takeout food. But if I have a handful of vegetables in my fridge or a heel of bread, I make soup or bread pudding. If I can't use that heel now, it goes in my deep freezer until I have enough. I also take my fruit & veggie scraps for my compost pile and I save my egg shells to grind up for my garden. Also, I have a dog who thinks she's a person so there are not may leftovers (have you ever seen a dog who eats salad?)

                                                                                                                                                                    I experiment all the time with food and if I make a batch of something and can't use it all, I pack it up for my friends, who look forward to those times. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine is I think it's terrible for anyone to waste food just because they can afford to, especially someone who once went hungry.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. jfood Oct 22, 2009 07:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Wow, pretty actrive thread and very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                      Jfood will add his unpopular voice to the minority here. It is rare that there are leftovers in his fridge. He tries very hard to prepare the appropriate amount of food that will be totally eaten at dinner but sometimes he fails. And there are items that historically have never been eaten if placed in the fridge. So these items go down the disposal.

                                                                                                                                                                      Wrt the expiry date on milk, jfood uses his nose. If it is about turning, down the sink. Likewise with eggs, but a week after expiry they too go down the drain. There are also times, like Janet, where you need to buy a large size of something, i.e. ham, turkey, roaster and there are some leftovers from the main event. Jfood tries to use on sandwiches or in a CPP, but sometimes that goes down the disposal as well.

                                                                                                                                                                      At restaurants. the jfoods never take home a doggie bag (hey i've tried for years to convince them otherwise). Is it wasteful? jfood understands, but he also understands that the leftovers will sit in the fridge and then get chucked in 2 days.

                                                                                                                                                                      So jfood does his conserving when he plans, shops and cooks. But if he is wrong there are times that the mistakes go down the drain. Is it perfect? Not compared to many on these boards, but it does maximize the amount consumed using the constraints on the jfood linear program.

                                                                                                                                                                      46 Replies
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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 05:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        You said it so much better than I did jfood.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                          jfood Oct 23, 2009 05:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Jfood wishes he was able to jump in earlier above, interesting reading and you must now feel like a dog just aout of a bath trying to shake all the water out of the fur.

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                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                          Marge Oct 23, 2009 05:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          I am on the fence--I try not to purchase more perishables than I need, but I have a strong aversion to using anything past (or even close to) the sell by date. On the other hand, I am a "reformed" doggy bagger--I love the challenge of using last night's wonderful restaurant meal leftovers in a creative frittata or hash for breakfast.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                            Sam Fujisaka Oct 23, 2009 05:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Sad and ironic that jfood, A DOG, doesn't take home DOGGIE BAGS! If not jfood, then who???

                                                                                                                                                                            [insert sideways grinning moron icon here to indicate goodwill and humerous intent]

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                              jfood Oct 23, 2009 05:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Sammy,

                                                                                                                                                                              I have tried for 12 years to convince Jfood that the first word in Doggie Bag is you know who. At least the little jfood are smarter than him and they understand the concept. Hard to teach an old dog...

                                                                                                                                                                              [insert sideways grinning, sometime frowning moron icon here to indicate goodwill and humerous intent]

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                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                              Scargod Oct 23, 2009 05:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              I think you mentioned your master working at home; perhaps three days a week. You may be a very busy dog (and your master, too). I think I am correct that he cooks, too.
                                                                                                                                                                              For us, I cook 98% of the time. Yesterday's doggie bag (I love that term because that was what we said back in Texas - not "take-away"), become today's lunch or dinner. Usually with little effort I can add items from other meals and it becomes a new dish, not just the old one re-heated. I just can't even comprehend what it would be like to not have leftovers to work with.

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 06:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                We cook about 50% of the time. Because of this thread, I checked out the leftover in the frig this morning and assessed their likely uses and/or demise.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. 2 slices pizza (leftover from takeout last night). Will likely be lunch today or over the
                                                                                                                                                                                weekend.
                                                                                                                                                                                2. Meatloaf. Will likely be husband's lunch tomorrow.
                                                                                                                                                                                3. Roasted potatoes. Will likely be made into hash browns for husband's breakfast
                                                                                                                                                                                tomorrow.
                                                                                                                                                                                4. Beef brisket from Sunday. Will likely be tossed on Monday.
                                                                                                                                                                                5. Green beans. Will likely be tossed on Monday.
                                                                                                                                                                                6. Salsa that has gone South. Will be tossed on Monday.
                                                                                                                                                                                7. 1/2 sad cucumber. Will be tossed on or before Monday.
                                                                                                                                                                                8. 1/4 Ham. Still living the good life.

                                                                                                                                                                                There are also some stale cookies on the counter that will be tossed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                                  Sam Fujisaka Oct 23, 2009 06:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Can I have the brisket and cookies?

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                                                                                    Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 06:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Sure :-) I had the brisket for lunch earlier this week but there is still quite a bit left. The cookies are pretty far gone though. ..LOL

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                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                                    Paulustrious Oct 23, 2009 06:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Good thought. I'm going to list what I chuck away over the weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My freezer harbours shelves full of good intentions, slowly desiccating their way to anonymity

                                                                                                                                                                                    .At least I can still recognise the two-year old sui mai.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                                                      im_nomad Oct 23, 2009 01:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ok i'm going to wave my freak flag for a moment ;) . The soup I said I made last night required an apple, and I have no apples in the fridge right now. When I was digging for the frozen chipotles in the freezer I found about half a macintosh cut up in a baggie. Don't really know why i'd kept it. Thing is, i'm pretty sure the last time I had macintosh apples was last fall ....

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                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver Oct 23, 2009 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm kinda a dumpster-diver like Sam so maybe we can split the brisket and he can have the cookies cause I dont LIKE cookies :) But, see, you're not such a throw-er-out-er as you led some of us to believe. And, considering how you feel about Thanksgiving dinner, I'm SO not surprised that you dont like celery!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        I thought I was pretty clear in my initial post. Perhaps not. My point was that what I choose to eat is based on what I want, not using up something that is already there. And IME when I freeze leftovers, they end up getting thrown out rather than used up as I find home frozen stuff unappealing, which was another point....I don't want to eat (whether it's fresh or leftover, homemade or from a restaurant) food I find unappealing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                                                                                                                        Scargod Oct 23, 2009 07:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        As naked cooking, living life dangerously paul is saying, I put stuff in the freezer. If I'm thinking to myself, I am bored with brisket, then it would go in the freezer. Otherwise it might very well become pho or go in a Chinese dish.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Oct 23, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly. And like you, with two dogs, a couple Tbs. of pasta is a little treat for them for breakfast or dinner. Much more than that can be a mid-morning snack for ME.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I rarely make less than 2 cups of rice because the extra can go in tortillas with all sorts of other leftovers. A few dribs and drabs of most anything will make a really filling meal when put in a tortilla.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                            im_nomad Oct 23, 2009 01:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            extra rice can also go into the dogs ;) mine is right now happily snoozing with a full belly of leftover steamed rice from my kung pao.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver Oct 23, 2009 03:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I have a tiny bit of rotini with Bolognese to add to the girls'dinner tonight.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Scargod
                                                                                                                                                                                        jfood Oct 23, 2009 11:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Jfood does not work from home and travels 50+% of the time. He writes this as he tries to get home and expects delays. grrrr

                                                                                                                                                                                        If there are leftovers and he places in the fridge and he is home the next day for lunch, he does to use them. Now that it is only M&M at home cooking for two is a snap. A protein a veg and a salad. Yes there is salad left over and that is usually Mrs Jfood's lunch (so she tells him).

                                                                                                                                                                                        Jfood likes the challenge of going to the market and only buying the protein that is on sale. His grocer has a great rotation from beef to veal to lamb to pork. Then jfood works with that protein for the entree.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Oct 23, 2009 03:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I had a friend who turned up his nose and said, "Ew, you eat brown meat?" So when we go to the store we always look for the brown meat. Always.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                            jfood Oct 23, 2009 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            What's brown meat?

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                                                                                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                                                                                              gryphonskeeper Oct 23, 2009 07:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                              What I was told by a butcher is that all red meat turns brown after a couple hours exposed to oxygen, unless they treat it with some preservative....

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks G

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                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                c oliver Oct 23, 2009 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                The stuff that's 30-50% off :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                  jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  That is why jfood loves his grocer. They sell 1-3 different proteins each week at ~30% regular price. All fresh, not the 5 day old stuff. Plus they are the only store jfood knows that REDUCES the price of seasonal foods for the holidays.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Paulustrious Oct 24, 2009 05:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sssh! Don't tell every one. Our local supermarket will reduce the price by 50% on meat that is not bright red. Even better is when they get the two tone meat, brown in places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    With a joint I take it home and age it until it is getting closer to black.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                                                                      c oliver Oct 24, 2009 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      hehe. If I'm cooking a rib roast for guests, I try to NEVER let them see it before I cook it. It's been aging in the fridge for up to a week and is quite close to black.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Paulustrious Oct 24, 2009 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I said almost exactly the same thing a while back. We carve off the outside 'jerky'. This gets reconstituted in another guest-free meal.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                                                                                                                        shaogo Oct 24, 2009 06:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Late at night (right about the time I'm coming home from working in the restaurant) our local Stop & Shop puts out the meat that's somewhat off-color. On weekday evenings, I can pick up steaks, lamb chops and the occasional veal shank to be cooked the following day -- all at deep discounts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Without exception this stuff has become some great meals. Haven't gotten anything that's at all bad-smelling yet.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                                                        gryphonskeeper Oct 24, 2009 07:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I always buy that stuff if I am going to make meatloaf or meatballs. Plus if you are going to eat it that night, there is no problem :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                          chefbeth Oct 28, 2009 12:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to have a friend who loved to shop the discounted meats for dinner that night. He called the area where the "brown meats" were kept the "rot rack," which I thought was hilarious. And frugal. The stuff wasn't bad -- it had just hit it's sell-by date.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chefbeth
                                                                                                                                                                                                            c oliver Oct 28, 2009 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I LOVE THAT! That's going to be my new term. ROT RACK. Too perfect.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 02:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                eggs have an expiry date? I've never paid the slightest attn to it and have never - ever - cracked open a rotten egg. Some preps are better with older eggs: souffles, anything w whipped egg whites. Why not just keep them, crack open in a separate bowl, and if it's off, discard?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                  jfood Oct 28, 2009 03:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jfood applauds your dedication to your beliefs. But jfood does not buy into the theory that older eggs make better anything. From egg salad to whipped eggs and everything else., jfood likes fresh.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                                                                                                                    cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In this case, it's less about beliefs and more about feeling better knowing there are eggs in the fridge! I don't have a car so schlepping extra stuff is extra work. And I'm hard pressed enough to remember stuff I've actually run out of . . . yes I make a list.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                      jfood Oct 28, 2009 04:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      CinGi

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jfood likes fresh stuff, Mrs jfood likes fresh stuff, there is a grocer down the street, jfood has a car, mrs jfood has a car, they talk on the phone, for example, "Hi sweetie on the way home can you pick up some milk and eggs when you buy dinner?". Response, "sure sweetie, i'll be home at 7."

                                                                                                                                                                                                      No beliefs, no zen, no waste, fresh food, no psychotherapy, pretty simple.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                                                                                                                        cinnamon girl Oct 29, 2009 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        But if you're throwing out eggs that is waste. Your business of course. While I can see the difference in fresh vs older eggs, I actually can't taste the difference. Clearly you have a highly-tuned palate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                          jfood Oct 29, 2009 01:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          But if noone in jfood's family will eat them, should jfood leave them in the fridge for future generations?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Full tummy Oct 29, 2009 01:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What about you, jfood's canine master? Surely you like hard-boiled egg and don't mind if it's a couple of weeks past its prime?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Full tummy
                                                                                                                                                                                                              jfood Oct 29, 2009 01:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jfood would probably make some hard boiled eggs (an intermediate step to egg salad) if the date was within a week past the expiration date, reluctantly and if noone saw him. He does not give me egg salad, but he makes a mean cheese omelette that he is will to share. woof

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Full tummy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                givemecarbs Oct 29, 2009 09:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In my experience older eggs are less likely to crack when you hard boil them. So I always get some eggs a bit before Easter because I love to decorate eggs for the baskets. Last year I made the mistake of trying to get my eggs for decorating from Trader Joe's!!!! :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                        pikawicca Oct 28, 2009 04:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Except hard-boiled eggs -- fresh just don't work.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                                                                                                          c oliver Oct 28, 2009 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, you can cook 'em, just can't peel them. Yep, don't work. And my patience shatters around me and I say more bad words.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                            jfood Oct 28, 2009 05:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            P&C

                                                                                                                                                                                                            With all due respect. Jfood once believed this myth. He bought two dozen eggs. That day he took a dozen fresh eggs and boiled them for hard boiled eggs. He peeled 11 of them perfectly. Two weeks later he did the same with the second dozen. Once again 11 out of 12 were perfect.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver Oct 28, 2009 05:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You either have better motor skills or more patience than I. It makes me CRAZY(er).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                gryphonskeeper Oct 28, 2009 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I found an excellent trick that works every time I take a sewing needle, and I put a tiny hole in the top of the egg right before I boil it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                12 of 12 perfect eggs every time

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                pikawicca Oct 28, 2009 06:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Okay, j, I demand a demo. (You could host an egg-peeling party for us skeptics out by the dumpster with the propane heaters fired up to keep us all warm.) I have NEVER successfully peeled a hard-boiled fresh egg, and I've kept laying hens in the past, and tried many times. What is your method?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. pikawicca Oct 22, 2009 07:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My worst sin is over-buying at the farmers' market. Everything looks so good that I have to have it all. I try to rectify this by making soup on Friday with any unused produce. My neighbors are pretty good at helping me eat this up. As to leftovers, there are only two of us at home these days, but I typically cook for four. We love leftovers for lunch the next day. (And I've never experienced chewy shrimp, Janet. What method are you using to reheat your creole?)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                                                                                                                                        j
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Janet from Richmond Oct 23, 2009 05:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sit it out to room temperature and then microwave until it's warm. I really find most reheated seafood has either a poor texture or gets fishy. I love puttenesca sauce and that is one dish I do not bring home because reheated it becomes extremely fishy (and I cannot share with Dh because he abhors anchovies).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. enbell Oct 22, 2009 08:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Knowing what it is like to have *nothing* makes one appreciate *everything.*

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Scargod Oct 23, 2009 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          For those among us who are affluent I hope you will consider doing your part to promote and sustain local growers and producers that are helping the ecosystem with responsible and sound agricultural practices. Support the animal producers who don't use antibiotics and allow animals to free-range. These products cost a little more. If you can afford to eat what you want, you can afford to promote those companies who have the least impact on the earth and our environment. Sustaining these producers would go a long way towards turning around the way food is produced in our country right now.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            givemecarbs Oct 24, 2009 04:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is such an awesome thread, I am learning so much and thinking about it often. There is one time to be scared of your food though. When you go to John's mom's house for dinner. Since it's almost halloween I will tell you a frightening story. John bought two nice sirloin strip steaks for us to eat, but it was kinda hot and muggy so we ended up having spaghetti with vodka sauce from a jar instead. I just assumed he tossed them in the freezer or ate them up in the next day or so. Well on another dark and stormy night about a week later, John was hungry and unwrapped a steak. He noticed a strong rotten egg smell coming from the package so he called his uncle up and asked what to do? The uncle told him to toss that rotten meat out. So John did. The next day John's mom had company over for dinner, and along with some really old chicken thighs from the freezer there was some mystery meat covered in gravy. John took one bite and realized (cue scary music) it was the steaks!!!!!!! Now John has lived with his mom's cooking a long time so he was able to dispose of the bite gracefully without ingesting it. (years of practice) Apparently John's mom found the steaks in the trash the next day and rescued them. As far as John knows no one got sick and the steaks were all eaten up. John's mom will not eat red meat in front of company, so she was safe. But next time I get invited to John's mom's house for dinner I will be afraid. Very afraid. >whimper<

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                              LindaWhit Oct 24, 2009 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Apparently John's mom found the steaks in the trash the next day and rescued them. As far as John knows no one got sick and the steaks were all eaten up. John's mom will not eat red meat in front of company, so she was safe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              ~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wait - SHE won't eat red meat (in front of company?) but she'll serve uncooked red meat she rescued from the trash to company? Holy MOG. I hope you have pasta next time you're there - with NO meat or seafood sauce. :-)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                jfood Oct 24, 2009 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                peanut butter sandwich on the way. No way eating anything there. OMG

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LindaWhit Oct 24, 2009 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's probably a MUCH better idea, jfood!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I would take my own peanut butter and bread, too...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  c oliver Oct 24, 2009 04:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So she'll eat red meat when just with family? Do you think it's too late for some psychotropic drugs for her???

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    im_nomad Oct 24, 2009 05:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ok.....how does one "find" steaks in someone else's trash to begin with? (i've had a glass of wine, so I may be confused :) )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    John's Mom sounds like she'd get along well with that gal on HK who rescued the spaghetti from the trash. hehe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Unless someone like Gerard Butler falls into a bin somewhere, I am not rescuing ANYTHING from the trash.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      givemecarbs Oct 24, 2009 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I could use a glass of wine nomad! John still lives at home so his trash is her trash. :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        im_nomad Oct 25, 2009 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was a glass of 2008 Cafe Culture pinotage . Cheers !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm guessing John needs to start burying the trash in the back yard or something.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      gryphonskeeper Oct 24, 2009 08:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      mental note... when at Johns house claim you are a vegan!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        givemecarbs Oct 24, 2009 09:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He he!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Full tummy Oct 28, 2009 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Better yet, you're a Breatharian!!!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: givemecarbs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 03:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I love that no one got sick! remarkable. Maybe she's a dumpster diver by night. The smell though?! How did she get past the smell of it?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            givemecarbs Oct 29, 2009 01:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure. She did cook the meat though and covered it with gravy John tells me. Probably all her family and friends have adjusted to her cooking. I hope I'm never that well-adjusted!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. jnk Oct 26, 2009 05:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I try desperately to not waste any food for all of the previously mentioned reasons. I'm lucky in two respects, I have a 15 yr. old who has never liked breakfast foods, but is crazy about leftover proteins and/or pasta and or rice in the a.m., and we have a Foodsaver that allows me to save leftovers for dinners weeks down the line. On Friday we had the lefotver Rosh Hashonah apricot chicken and noodle kugel. If anything, they were both better after their freezing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cinnamon girl Oct 28, 2009 03:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            mmmm fried rice for breakfast . . . with lots of eggs (and in my non-Jewish version: bacon). And who doesn't love cold pizza for breakfast, esp if a little hungover?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd be happy living in Japan where I could have miso soup for breakfast. Your son sounds great!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cinnamon girl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              gryphonskeeper Oct 28, 2009 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love miso soup, and could eat it every meal :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nannook1 Oct 28, 2009 04:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not scared of older food...but we really hate to waste food. To cut back on our waste we started a "bad food" jar. Works like a swear jar. If you brought home a piece of food/fruit/item that was thrown away because it went bad, it cost you a dollar. When we started this a couple of years ago...it was PAINFULL and expensive. Now we have completely change our buying habits and maybe have to throw in two bucks a month.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Nannook1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              c oliver Oct 28, 2009 05:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's a great idea. I've got a frozen appetizer item that I bought at Costco probably last Christmastime. It was marked down and I bought it though it wasn't appealing. Now it takes up space that could be filled with beef and Bolognese. I should take it to my MIL; she eats everything :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Nannook1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cinnamon girl Oct 29, 2009 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's brilliant. It must really heighten your waste awareness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Nannook1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  paulj Oct 29, 2009 04:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where did the money in the 'bad food' jar go? If you just used for other items, it really didn't cost you anything. If it was tossed, it would be a waste. If it was given to a charity, maybe even one that (efficiently) help feed the hungry, then your 'bad food' habits weren't hurting others.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Similarly what happens to that half-serving of Alfredo that you brought home in a styrofoam doggie box? Do you take it to work for lunch, and donate that money that you would have otherwise spent to get a sandwich from a machine?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frugality for its own sake, and your own benefit, does not seem particularly moral. I can't imagine Scrooge throwing out bruised fruit, or leaving half a serving of Alfredo behind.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. pikawicca Oct 29, 2009 06:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, I'll try to say something new. I get very frustrated when I buy fresh produce and the next day it's starting to get moldy. My reaction is throw it out -- the faintest taste of mold makes me gag. I've seen conflicting opinions about whether or not it's enough to just cut off the moldy bits, or if the whole thing has to be pitched. What's your take?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. c oliver Oct 29, 2009 09:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "I did then what I knew then, & when I knew better, I did better."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maya Angelou

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope we all do better.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      alanbarnes Oct 29, 2009 09:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And aspire to do better even when we don't. From your mouth to God's ear.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Full tummy Oct 30, 2009 10:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you for that. It is true that none of us here can argue about who is using more or less, abusing more or less, but it would be nice for us all to keep an open mind to the possibility that we just might be able to do better.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cachetes Oct 30, 2009 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Perfect. I think you should remind us, including me, of this every time one of these threads devolves into instinctual knee-jerkism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            c oliver Oct 30, 2009 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I first read this a few years ago and try to remember it. Frequently fail but do try. Glad y'all like it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Smorgasbord Oct 30, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interesting thread, and like many others, it resonates with me. Growing up as the child of poor immigrants, you Did. Not. Waste. Food... There was no greater crime. Today there is very little food waste in our house because I plan our weekly meals with extreme precision, based on a] what we have in house & b] what's on sale & c] the recipes we wanted to try. I do this because a] I enjoy the process of food planning and shopping [nothing makes me happier than a full fridge], b] I'm anal-retentive, but c] mostly because of my upbringing- those things never leave you, no matter what. Luckily SO has the same attitude towards food as me, so leftovers are cheerfully eaten the next day and then either frozen for a few weeks later or put in one of our lunches later in the week. Products a few days over the expiry date don't bother me; I think someone upthread had it right when they said that there is a lot of food waste because people aren't sure what to do with leftover/extra prep food [i.e. they've bought it for a specific purpose and aren't sure to do with the rest, or are uncomfortable experimenting in the kitchen, etc.]- of course I don't mean resident Chowhounds are guilty of this :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The Chowhound Team Nov 1, 2009 01:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We've had to remove a number of angry responses from this thread, and the discussion as a whole is increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock this topic now.

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