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Friday, September 18, 2009

food waste

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Every week I talk about food waste.  Why?  Other than it’s so cool and fun?  In the hope that it will make me aware of how much food (and money) I’m throwing away when something gets tossed in the garbage and not eaten.

Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion.    via Wasted Food

Kristen, over at The Frugal Girl started documenting her food waste in March 2008, added pictures and then challenged her readers to join the fight.  Don’t be a Grouch, keep it out of the can.

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This week’s waste gave me the hee-bee gee-bees.  For real.  First was the rice.  I thought a bug had found his way into the bag.  Then I picked it up and found lots of little flying bugs in what appeared to be a sealed bag.  I can only imagine the eggs were already in the rice.  Gross.  Gross.  Gross.  The only flaw in my theory is the same bugs were found in my wheat germ.  And here they were trying to escape.  Straight to the garbage, do not pass GO.  I’m not that squeemish but lots of bugs in my food puts me over the edge.  I don’t know what the bugs were, where they came from or what they eat.  They don’t seem to like dried beans or coconut as those twist-tied bags are bug free and everything else seems clean as well.  Could the manifestation in 2 bags simply have been coincidence?  I guess I don’t really care as long as they are gone.

Unfortunately there was more waste.  Rice pudding.  Again.  I felt so bad the husband threw out his rice pudding last week, so I used some leftover rice and made a batch.  It wasn’t bad the first night.  Some days later I opened it up and it was definitely bad.  Note to self: eat more dessert.  (Yeah right, just kidding.  I don’t need a note for that.)  And finally a piece of cornbread that had been in the freezer for months.  It tasted terrible the night I made it and I kept hoping for a recipe that would mask the taste.  No such recipe has yet to appear so I finally tossed it.

I’m not proud of this week and after having to put it all up here I feel like a bit of a (gourmet) loser.  Congratulations Frugal Girl, public humiliation achieved for another week.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the green party

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I can’t believe it’s true.  Toddler L turned two yesterday.  And with kids’ birthdays comes birthday parties.  Luckily for me Toddler L doesn’t have a favorite cartoon character or TV show (he says TV when we turn on the radio, no TV may just warp his mind).  He doesn’t have a favorite book and he hasn’t requested his room be covered in dinosaurs or cars.  So for this year at least I got to choose what his birthday party would look like.  What was the inspiration?

Beans.  Yup, Heinz beans.

Not just any beans though, the baked beans in tomato sauce that are imported from England.  (Yes, a U.S. company makes a product only available in another country that is then brought here and sold as an import.)  When we found a big tin of them I thought they would be good for the party.  Then I looked at the tin and found inspiration in the colors.

We used Pingg for the invitations.  As much as I would have loved to send out handmade paper invites to all the kids we did the responsible thing and used their parents e-mail instead.

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We were at a fabulous wilderness park with some less than fabulous metal picnic tables.  Decision 1 – cloth or plastic?  I heavily considered renting tablecloths but couldn’t justify the expense for a 2 hour party.  So we went with plastic that could at least be recycled after.  (I’m kicking myself for not bringing them home and using them for kids’ craft days.  I blame lack of sleep for that faux pa.)

Table decorations were kept pretty simple.  Beans tins (lots of beans were consumed in the making of this party) with flowers – some real, mostly paper – and a picture of Toddler L that I printed at home and attached to skewers.  The pictures are already being recycled into another project.  I also put out some rice filled bean bags I had made using the circles on a pillow case found at the thrift store.  The colors matched the tins perfectly.  The bean bags were later used for games.

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We borrowed two canopies and put up some paper poms.  They were pretty easy but very time consuming.  The banner was printed at home and I strung the pieces on ribbon.  It now hangs in Toddler L’s room.

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The food was kept simple.  We served pretzel Goldfish (Toddler L’s favorite food), pb & j sandwich cutouts, fruit, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (lovingly made by the husband), mini burgers made with organic beef (not pictured as they were cooking) and, of course, beans.

All of the serving dishes were from our kitchen.  We used compostable plates, cups and cutlery.  And thanks to some friends they actually got composted.  Along with the pillow case I found a sheet that matched the teal color.  I cut it up to make napkins which have since been added to our home collection.  There can never be enough napkins with kids around.

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These are the burgers.  Aren’t they cute?  I think they were a big hit with kids and adults.

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We did have bottled water as it’s a must for these hot summer days.  We had some large bottles for the adults and these smaller bottles for the kids.  I’m not a fan of plastic water bottles anyway but half full ones left lying around really get my goat.  We also had Sprecher root beer.  It’s the best root beer I’ve tasted, it’s from the husband’s hometown and it comes in glass bottles.  As a final option we made an apple, peach lemonade.  (It was delicious.  And it made me break the Compact.  I just didn’t have a pitcher big enough.  So I bought a beautiful glass dispenser with a tap.  I’ve never seen one in a thrift store, I’ve wanted one for years and I know I will use it forever, so I don’t feel too bad about the purchase.)

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I don’t know many toddlers that need to be hyped up on sugar, they really have enough energy already.  (At least the one that lives with me does.)  So I thought mini cupcakes would be perfect.  For the kids at least, the adults got regular size indulgences – I need a full chocolate fix.  They came from BabyCakes Baking Company and were amazing.  I rented the cake stand from the shop so no added waste from making or buying one, and it was way cute.  The cupcake toppers were printed at home and will be recycled into whatever projects I can come up with.

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The true highlight of the party though was the pond.  We bought a bulk supply of ranger approved food and handed it out to the kids to feed the ducks, fish and turtles.  It was better than any games or activities we could have brought with us.  It might have been better than the cupcakes.

All in all I’m pretty happy with how green the “teal” party was.  I don’t know that we had any trash as everything was either brought home for another use, recycled or composted.

Could we have made less of an impact and stayed true to the Compact?

Yes.

Would it have been as fabulous and beautiful?

Nope.

So in this give-and-take life I’m pretty happy with what I did to get what I got.

Friday, August 28, 2009

eat cake

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As it’s Friday and we’re all about food waste today, I thought I’d share the sentiments on the birthday card sent to the husband by our insurance agent.

You should have your cake

AND EAT IT TOO!

(because cake tastes pretty good, and

if you don’t eat it, it will just go to waste,

and we all know wasting food is bad.)

Well, I thought it was funny.

Friday, August 28, 2009

food waste

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Don’t store food on top of the refrigerator.  Unless you want to forget about it.  Case in point – croutons made some three months ago to salvage stale bread so I wouldn’t have to post it on a food waste Friday.  Should have saved myself the effort.  And the oil.  Next time I’ll have to find a more memorable spot or keep a list on the fridge with all the foods in unusual places that need to be eaten.

Do my posts about food waste make you more aware of what gets tossed into the trash bin at your house?  I hope so, even if it’s just a passing thought.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

friday forum

Today’s topics of discussion are so disparate that I am going to split them into separate posts.

First up is the weekly food waste.  Kristen, over at The Frugal Girl, has challenged her readers to be more aware of the food they throw out.  By facing the issue head on and even publishing the findings (public humiliation is a great motivator of change), we can all help reduce food waste.  These Friday postings are my findings.  Or non-findings as the case may be.

This week I have no findings.  Again, I haven’t done a thorough search for what may be lurking.  Having house guests throws off my whole game.  My weekly standards usually get all shot to hell.  Shopping doesn’t happen in an orderly fashion.  Eating is not always as home-made.  And regular kitchen maintenance is at a bare minimum.  Or non-existent.  This week it’s been non-existent.  So I blindly assume I have no food waste to bear witness to.  I hope I’m not wrong.

Over the next week or two, as things calm down (post baby delivery and house guests) I will probably have some things to show you but I’m taking a free pass on most of it because of the aforementioned activities.

Bear with me as life returns to normal.

Yeah, okay that was a joke.

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If you are traveling with infants or young children this summer check out today’s other post.  It really has nothing to do with the Compact but I’m putting it here anyway.