This article has been graciously provided by Sylvia Lovely, host of Food News and Chews, on 97.3 FM and 590 AM radio!
I say I am not your usual foodie despite having a radio program and podcast, Food News and Chews Radio. Simply, that means that I’m pretty easy to please – I like to eat but I’m not really fussy about it. But it is the food policy that gets me going. My latest tirade is over the 119 billion lbs. of food wasted in the US alone. That translates into 130 billion meals and an estimated $708 billion in food thrown away. Yet, people go hungry.
There are many reasons for the waste of our food – and many are legitimate. We are busy – enough said. Restaurant portions are large, especially for those north of 60. Who could or should eat that much in one sitting? We are unsure of the safety of food past “best used by” dates. Items such as bread are usually sold in large packages – the world has not caught up with the phenomenon of smaller households or empty nests.
What can we as mere mortals do to change that picture? There are organizations we should support that are “rescuing” food much as we enthusiastically do with dogs and cats. We can certainly raise awareness through social media and op-eds but what else can we do? When overwhelmed with “I’m powerless” syndrome, take small steps. We have to start somewhere.
Enter “The Leftover Queen.” I am so notorious for bringing home large restaurant portions that I’ve taken to carrying containers with me (many of them plastic thus creating another problem – that is for another blog.) I buy the “big bread” but portion it out into two slices in a baggie and freeze them. Because it is more economical to buy larger rather than smaller parcels of meat, I dismantle them and freeze them in manageable portions.
But it is the re-purposing of leftovers that brings out the “cook” in me. One base ingredient I keep in abundance is rice which can be kept frozen indefinitely and is nutritious and tasty. Since it is filling, it pairs up perfectly with leftover smaller portions of already seasoned steak or fish that add delicious flavor and protein. Once cooked, its “leftover” portions also freeze well.
Get your creative on! Recently, while visiting my son in Duluth, Minnesota I bought three pounds of Minnesota Wild Rice at a gas station. This is not an unusual venue given that Minnesota wild rice burgers and other delights made from this earthy grain are as common in northern Minnesota as burgoo is in Kentucky. Though wild rice speaks to me, you can use any rice that is personal to you. Or, invent your own rice/leftover tradition.
I recently re-purposed leftover baked catfish with a cup of wild Minnesota rice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sauteed onions. I prefer the “little of this and a little of that” way of cooking. Just maybe, with a little of this and a little of that, we can change the world for the better. What’s your first step to stop food waste?