There is a beauty pageant going on in our grocery stores and we all take part.
Perfect packaging, unblemished produce, no bruises or bug bites, no marks from too much sun or rain or not enough of either, no lumps or bumps, heaven forbid if it is too small or too big, the curves and shapes have to be just so give or take a calculated and allowable variation, the color should be as you expect it to be, and nothing should be soft or showing signs of over ripeness. We want the best, the cream of the crop. Anything less, gets tossed out.
I was trying to write a blog on gratitude while staring out the window into the dark, damp world that lay just beyond my windowpane when I heard three honks coming from the driveway.
My wonderful parents were here to drop off three banana boxes brimming with beautiful fruits and veggies.
Kiwis, bananas including bunches of organic bananas, peppers, tomatoes, non GMO papayas, organic grapefruits so sweet they make your mouth water just smelling them, organic carrots, a pound of the most beautiful strawberries, mandarin oranges, an asian pear all the way from China, and an array different apples.
In total there was about ninety pounds of food. All of the food was free, all of it was rescued from a store and all of it was going to be thrown out.
The bananas were ripe, the carrots had a slice in the bag from an exacto knife, the prepackaged grapefruits seemed to be missing one from the bag, the pear had a wee bruise, the papayas had a few bad spots, the kiwis had a few soft ones in the prepackaged bag, I have no idea what was wrong with the strawberries or mandarin oranges, the tomatoes were not as plump as they should be, the peppers were showing a few wrinkles, and all of it was not only edible but tasty as well as nourishing.
I went to the grocery store the other day and a small cauliflower was going for $5.99. How is a family supposed to feed themselves when fresh produce is so expensive, and how can we justify throwing out perfectly edible albeit not perfectly presentable food when people are going hungry in our own communities?
This evening I began peeling kiwis and papayas and slicing them up to add to milkshakes, tomorrow I will begin dehydrating bananas and apples. Much of the food went straight into the fridge to be enjoyed as usual. The strawberries I am coveting. To have an entire pound of ripe fruit in my fridge in the middle of winter is making me positively giddy. I plan to eat every one by itself and savor the miracle of strawberries in January; a treat that would have ended up in the trash.
To throw out food is a crime on so many levels regardless of the reasons:
- If it does not meet the standard of beauty, it is no less nutritious than its prettier counterparts and should not be wasted
- If it is damaged in anyway through transport or storage, often the mark or bruise can be cut off and the food still enjoyed
- If it is past its prime and limp or not as plump often the produce can be perked up or processed (canned, pureed, cooked, dehydrated, frozen…) and still eaten
- If you find produce is spoiling in your fridge or on your counter before you can use it, please buy less or find a way to use it, or preserve it before it spoils
- Do not ever throw out food, organic matter than goes into the landfills creates harmful greenhouse gasses. Be responsible and compost, feed waste scraps to animals or vermicompost
- Food takes a lot of water and resources to grow so when you throw it out you are wasting everything that went into it as well
- We grow enough food to feed everyone, but large amounts of food is wasted and never made available to be eaten. If we properly managed what we already grow we could end hunger
Everyone has the ability to make a difference. My parent’s chose to rescue almost a hundred pounds of food today, and for that I am grateful and thankful.