By Judy Ryan
When I was a young woman, I was given a copy of the “I Hate to Cookbook” by Erma Bombeck. A witty and practical woman, she helped me to survive my first year of marriage. Among other pieces of wisdom, she shared her maxim, “when in doubt, throw it out!” That is, if you don’t know what to do with leftovers lurking in your refrigerator, toss them. We now know that isn’t great advice.
In the United States, 20% of our food is never eaten. The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP21) reports that when food is wasted, so are the energy and resources which went into growing it. These include water, person-power, land, and transportation. Eighty percent of fresh water in this country is used to grow and produce food! Ten percent of energy consumed in the U.S. goes into transporting food. (A good reason to buy from local farmers.) When food is tossed into our landfills, methane gas is released; methane is 28 times more powerful than CO2 as a heat-trapping gas.
Most food waste occurs at the household level. What you and I do matters. Why are we buying food that we don’t eat? NYSP21 states that reasons include lower prices on bulk purchases, poor planning, impulse buying and ineffective storage at home. Confusion about the difference between “sell by” and “use by” dates is another problem. The “use by” date should guide you.
Bulk purchases can lead to food waste. If you buy more than your family can eat, remember that your freezer is your friend. You can freeze berries. You can freeze bread and use it a slice or two at a time. You can freeze leftovers. There’s plenty of info on the web about what can be frozen and for how long.
I find something satisfying about using up what’s in my refrigerator. Cold weather is a time for soups, stews, and other comfort foods. If your veggies are getting tired, they can still add flavor and texture to soups, stews, chili, or spaghetti sauce.
From time to time I serve a meal that I call “loaves and fishes,” when I use up all the small containers of this and that, and am gratified by how little of anything remains at the end.
Finally, composting is a way to turn peelings, tough stalks, apple cores, coffee grounds and so much else into rich organic food for your garden. That’s a topic for another newsletter - or better yet, scroll the web for information.
The Green Committee is an advisory and advocacy group made up of Upper Nyack residents working toward the environmental health and resiliency of our village in the face of climate change. Issues of concern include air and noise pollution; tree planting designed to survive extreme weather; water conservation, sewers and drainage; green landscaping; more use of renewable energy sources; and education of the public in these areas and others of concern to residents.
For more information, please contact Judy Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845 358-4322.
Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Village Board of Trustees.