When I was a kid, my mom would always do this:
[Sniff, sniff] “Does this smell weird to you?” or [Take a bite/sip] “Does this taste bad to you?” I would run screaming from the kitchen. She would taste it again, shrug her shoulders as if to say, “Who knows?” and throw the stuff into whatever meal she was preparing. I was suitably horrified.
I’d like to think (at the ripe old age of 26) that I’m a little older and wiser, and that I’m not so finicky as I was in my youth. But last winter I realized that I was wasting more than a little food and it didn’t feel good. I felt slightly guilty every time I found a bag of wilted lettuce or wrinkly, rubber carrots in the back of the fridge or that loaf of bread just starting to mold, but into the trash it went. I was tossing out anything that wasn’t perfect. Until one day I read an article about food waste in the UK which estimated that the average household was throwing out 25% of food purchased for consumption. I was more ashamed of the waste of the world (more specifically mine) than I was by my mother using slightly “off” food. It was one of those aha! moments where you realize you can’t carry on as you have been. I’d need to shop smarter—not buying more than I can use. But no matter how smart I shopped, there would always be less than perfect foodstuff in my fridge and pantry. I needed to get over my juvenile squeamishness—there’s nothing wrong with a limp carrot.
These days, my conscience doesn’t have to work overtime and I can honestly say that – although the food coming out of my kitchen is often the product of questionable, debatable and suspicious origins – life (and the food I’m eating) has never been better.