Stop the wilt: chowing down on food waste before it’s toast

September 4, 2012

Wilting produce in the so-called "crisper"

The crisper. Does it actually keep your produce all that crisp? That apple at the back of this photo has been in there so long it really will taste more like the fridge than an apple. A crisper can only do so much.  You do have to actually eat your food at some point. Trouble is most of us don’t. We toss at least a third of what we buy for our households. And from farm to fridge, we actually trash a whopping 40 per cent of our food. Just check out these stats from Natural Resources Defense Council: 


How do we put an end to an this crazy waste? Well, for one, you read my latest Ecoholic column on avoiding food waste, stock pot full of recipes and ideas. But there are a few tips that need refreshing. For one, I told you to cut the mould off your cheese and keep on eatin.’ Well, I got an email from a former monk who had been trained in the art of cheesemaking and noted that cutting off an inch of cheese around mould, as I suggested, was wasting too much. He said:

“One thing I learned is that mold is an inevitable accompaniment to the aging of cheese. In fact, while cheeses are being cured, they are washed daily in a salt brine, to remove any mold. If you have a moldy block of cheese, add a tablespoon of salt to a cup of lukewarm water, soak a clean cloth in it, and gently wipe the cheese. If any spots remain, use the tip of a potato peeler to flip them out.

Thanks for the tip! Also, I found another amazing food blog, loaded with zero-waste recipes (no haggis this time). This one’s by an Italian chef and has seriously delicious recipes for things we normally trash like eggplant skins, bean pods, pumpkin rinds, asparagus stalks…even ‘stale bread brownies.’ So inspiring. I’m so going to make her vegetable stock powder using dehydrated veggie peels.

And remember, the freezer is your friend! Freeze leftovers before you get sick of them. Freeze local produce while it’s in season. For all the deets on Deep Freezing Your Way Through the 100-Mile Diet, check out my 2008 column on the topic.

Next time you’re out at the grocery store/farmers’ market loading up your cart, picture the 20 pounds of food the average North American throws out a month and make “buy less, buy smart” our new mantra.

P.S. I promise to grate that fridge-flavoured apple into tomorrow morning’s pancakes. Nothing a little cinnamon can’t jazz up. And I really should do something with that lone carrot before it keeps wilting…