Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day Thirty-Five - Old Mother Hubbard

Cleaning Out the Pantry to Avoid Waste

Maybe it's because I have two little ones here who can be fickle-eaters at best, but somedays it seems like we toss out more food than we eat. Being brought up in a "you should always clean your plate" atmosphere, this of course makes me insane. However, I don't want to be responsible for my children's future eating disorders (although I'm sure I'll be blamed for lots of other issues) so I generally bite my tongue and toss the half-eaten sandwiches, the single-bite granola bars and the dog-hair covered bananas down the drain.

Even though I'm their mom, I really have no control over what my kids will or will not eat. I present them with somewhat healthy choices and hope for the best. They will waste what they waste and that's how kids are. What I do have control over is what I waste.

Every day I paw through the food in my pantry, pushing the unwanted items out of my way to get to the stuff I really want. Day after day, I look at mixes I will never bake, fruit-filled Jell-O the kids won't eat and items I bought by mistake. Don't laugh -- you shop with two maniac toddlers who take turns tossing pretty boxes into the cart when you're not looking and see how many items you purchase by mistake.

The bottom line is, I have come to the grips with the fact that -- I will never, ever use this food. And yet, here I let it stay, week after week, month after month, continually deteriorating, while people right here in my area may be going hungry. Today I start a new policy -- to clean out my cupboards every three months and donate what I'm not using to the local food bank.

How is this green, you ask? If I don't donate it, it will eventually go bad and that would have meant that all the energy going into its creation and distribution will have all been for naught. By giving this food to people who will use it, I will avoid having wasted that energy. As a perk, someone who is hungry tonight may not be as hungry tomorrow.


I cleaned out my cupboards and got a paper grocery bag about 75% full. I know I just cleaned my cupboards sometime in April or May, so if I can do this every three months, that will be three full grocery bags per year. Hard to quantify the actual energy savings, but it was definitely something more than nothing. And that is what matters.

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

Cleaning the cupboards was pretty easy. I did it while the kids watched an episode of Tom & Jerry (bad mom, I know). Also, I'm lucky, in that our local food bank has several convenient drop-off locations around town. If you don't know where your local food bank is, check online. If your town doesn't have one, you can always Freecycle food pretty easily.

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