We are Wasteful & Why it Must Change

Most nights, there is a question Amanda and I dread answering: What's for dinner?

It often leads to quick decisions, running with what we feel like eating, or skipping the lengthy process of defrosting, preparing, and cooking to do something else much quicker. 

Yes, we actually dread answering this question. Relate to anyone else?

We need to drastically get better at answering it.

I can't believe I saw this post today about how a report found that 40% of the food in the United States is wasted. As in never makes into the mouths and digestive tracts of us. The report goes on to say that the average family household throws away 25% of the food that it purchases.

Such a report is shocking (and disturbing!), and I can honestly say that I'm part of the problem. Just a couple of days ago I threw out spoiled lettuce, grapes, moldy ground beef that had already been cooked, and years-old real-fruit Popsicles that were still in the back of the freezer. Are we at a 25% waste rate? I'm not sure, but I do know we could do better.

Does anyone else find this 40% waste rate as extremely disturbing?

Just recently I heard how drastically over the past decade the percentage of people in extreme poverty has declined (something like 50% to 26% of the world's population, but don't quote me on these exact figures). Yet that 26% still amounts to 1.4 billion people around the globe that live on less that $1.25 a day. I bet the combined total of what I threw away the other day probably hovered in the $2-3 dollar range of food that was nutritious, wholesome, and went to complete waste. Food equaling 2 days worth of wages. Think about what you'd have to throw away without using to waste 2 days of your wages! 

Could I come up with some excuses as to how busy Amanda and I are and that our schedules are exactly opposite and so it is hard to meal plan anything when we don't even eat at the same time? Yes, I could. If I sat and tried to rationalize it, I could probably find more valid reasons as well, such as living in a desert and high temperatures, the difficulty of shopping and meal prepping for two, or even how neither Amanda nor I actually really like to cook to much as reasons for waste. 

Really, all the excuses boil down to convenience and busyness.

Busyness because preparing meals is work on top of our schedules.

Convenience because food is readily abundant and able to be purchased at the grocery, fast food restaurant, or elsewhere. 

In the morning, I get up a little late and do not have anything prepared for lunch then it is no problem to just eat out. 

Some produce comes in such large quantities it seems that one meal with sliced green peppers is fine, but finding a use for the other 1/2 of the pepper normally doesn't happen. Perhaps Amanda is wary of bacteria forming on it over the next couple of days, or I just don't want to add it to a salad, and it sits and wastes away until one of us finally throws it out.

But it is still waste.

We need to do this more often, and enjoy eating!
How do we reduce this waste, when it seems like the 40% wasting in America could make a very real, very considerable dent in the world's crisis. I don't see the companies leading the way here, because if they can make money (and trust me, they make money!) on U.S. consumers they will! They will try to convince us we need certain ingredients or portion sizes to satisfy ourselves. I probably agree with them too often too (44 oz. fountain drink anyone?) and need to pay more attention to these things.

Our society systemically is wasteful because we are in a land of abundance and access. 

I wonder if we have gotten so far removed from our agrarian roots that we don't even fully appreciate the food we eat?

If they were tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, eggs, or pork that took daily effort, oversight, and care of to nurture and grow knowing that they were my source of my nutrition and food would I take more care to not waste? 

Ancient societies, and even current agrarian societies that have not industrialized to our extent, are much more careful in using all parts of an animal, for instance. Have we shifted our mentality from "nurture and care" to "use and discard?"

Another question is does our current 40+ hour work week have anything to do with this? Are we working to earn an income so much, away from our residency and base needs of life, that it actually has shifted the focus away from those base needs? Dinner is now a hassle to be figured out around an hour commute each way, 8-hour workday, and social, spiritual, and philanthropic functions. What about that time spent preparing dinner, alone or with friends or family?

Basically, I was convicted by this report of waste. It is disturbing if not outright disgusting or evil! 

I'm not going to point the finger at others. 

I know I simply need to make changes to use what we have, and not let food waste away in our house.

Unfortunately, that probably means I start tonight with some strange combination of cream of chicken soup, an old frozen pork chop, a tomato, rotini noodles, pinto beans, and whatever else has been hiding in the door of our refrigerator...(I only joke a little)