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Oct 20, 2009 08:08 PM

Food waste


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 ?

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          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.

          1. re: Janet from Richmond

            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.

            1. re: Scargod

              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.

              1. re: paulj

                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.

            2. re: Janet from Richmond

              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.

              1. re: c oliver

                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.

            3. 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.

              34 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                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.

                1. re: gryphonskeeper

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

                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    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.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      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.

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    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.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      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.

                      1. re: Sooeygun

                        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.

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          “…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.

                          1. re: im_nomad

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

                            Yep, they fed them to the pigs.

                            1. re: lisavf

                              evidently we had different forefathers.

                              1. re: im_nomad

                                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?

                          2. re: Sooeygun

                            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...

                            1. re: Full tummy

                              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.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                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.

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  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.

                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                    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.

                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                      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.

                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                        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.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          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?

                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                            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.

                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                              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.

                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                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.

                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                  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!

                                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                    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.

                                            2. re: Paulustrious

                                              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.

                                    2. re: tcamp

                                      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.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        please email me at

                                    3. re: Sam Fujisaka

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

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        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.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          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.

                                          1. re: cassoulady

                                            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.

                                            1. re: gryphonskeeper

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

                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            "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.

                                          3. 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.

                                            32 Replies
                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              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.

                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                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.

                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                  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.

                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                    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.

                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                      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.

                                                    2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                      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!!

                                                      1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                        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.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Just file under "holier than Chow."

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            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.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              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.

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

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

                                                                THAT is Perfect.

                                                                1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                  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.

                                                            2. re: cinnamon girl

                                                              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?

                                                              1. re: small h

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

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  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..."

                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                    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...

                                                                    1. re: jfood


                                                                      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!

                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                        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.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          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.

                                                                        2. re: small h

                                                                          Paul does not understand acronyms.

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

                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

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

                                                                      2. re: small h

                                                                        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*.

                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                          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?

                                                                    2. re: small h

                                                                      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?

                                                                      1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                        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.

                                                                        1. re: cinnamon girl

                                                                          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.

                                                                      2. re: cinnamon girl

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

                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                    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.

                                                                    1. re: chocabot

                                                                      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 :)

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        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...

                                                                        1. re: jfood

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

                                                                          1. re: jfood

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