Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Help Save the World One Cuke at a Time

Today I'm going to use my superpowers to help save the world. You're welcome.

Can you believe that 25% of the food that U.S. consumers buy goes in the trash, either because they bought too much or because the "Best By" date got the better of them???

Learning this, my first heroic act is to eat ALL the leaf lettuce that I bought this weekend, as well as the rest of the cuke before it gets slimey, that green pepper before it dissolves, the last half of that oversized hunk of cheddar before it turns blue and furry, and to drink up the milk before it turns. Better freeze those hot dogs, too, before they are green. Oh, and I'll be sure to take care of those chips and dip, too, just to be on the safe side...

My next feat will be to eat to the bottom of the deep freeze, but that's another blog.

Anyway, lowly human consumers, take heart: this is only part of the problem. According to the Food Policy Action Education Fund, American consumers, businesses and farms spend $218 billion a year on growing, processing, transporting and throwing out food that is never eaten. Now THAT'S awful, and sad, especially in a world where an estimated 805 million people go to bed hungry each night.

There's another superhero on the scene I'd like to recognize: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine, who recently introduced two pieces of legislation to begin to address the problem. The Food Recovery Act is comprehensive legislation aimed at addressing food waste from farms, corporations, and at home. The Food Labeling Act aims to make food date labels more consistent and less confusing. "Best if used by" will designate that period of time when foods are at their peak of quality, but should still be OK if you don't use it up on time. It will replace "Best by", which should now only be used to close a kind letter. "Expires on" will be used for perishables like meat and dairy products. Also, if you have any sense at all, use your nose.

Back to that lovely display of fruits and veggies at the store: most of it comes from too far afield (like ALL the cukes at Market32 on Saturday - Produit du Canada), so it isn't going to last that long in the fridge anyway. But those good looks also means that the #2s and less than beautiful but perfectly good produce isn't being stocked, and much of that goes into landfill. Europe has been addressing the issue of several levels for a number of years - what to do with the ugly stuff - and I'm proud to see Hannaford joining the effort with their Misfit line. At the supermarket on Friday there were lovely limes and lemons and oranges, as well as a few blemished squash and cukes that weren't yet squishy, all marked down and up front instead of in the back of the store in Clearance.

But another customer and I got to talking and she had NO IDEA what Misfit was about. Hannaford: time to do a bit of marketing, or this isn't going to stick.

Mostly citrus fruits at the end of the season, the Misfits were all in good condition and notably less expensive

Anyway, pay attention, buy what you need, plan ahead, eat your veggies, heck feed your friends AND foes if you have to, but let's all be part of the conversation, and the solution.

Zena, Goddess of Fire

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