Thursday, February 24, 2011

There's No Food Wasting in Gardening

I recently moved to a different floor at work. While in the coffee room the other day, I saw that someone had tacked this article from the L.A. Times on the bulletin board. It's several months old (November 2010) and it's about how you can help the planet by simply not wasting food. In other words, don't buy more than what you can cook, eat your leftovers, etc.

The article resonated with me for several reasons. Lately I've been thinking about food waste in terms of my garden. I have many leftover seeds from last year and the year before, and I want to plant them. It means that I may not have many new varieties in the garden this year, but I  don't want to not use these seeds. I don't know anyone else who is interested in gardening, or who has the space, etc., so there's no one to give them to. Plus I really want to use them, especially since last year was so hot that many plants didn't really survive. They need a second chance! Some plants that did make it last year didn't have nice looking fruit. But we cut off the damaged parts and were able to save a portion of the cucumbers or peppers and still eat them.

The first year we grew our own veggies, we were totally green and didn't stagger our seed planting well. So we'd have a ton of veggies get ripe all at once, and then nothing. We gave a lot of food away that year, but some things did rot. Very bad. We planned better last year and had a fairly steady stream of vegetables. We made sauces and froze things. We're still using bell peppers that we froze 6 months ago! It feels so good to know you're eating something that you grew, and it tastes almost as fresh as if it had just been picked, and we have saved a lot of money.

Over the last few months I've made an effort to eat better, more healthful foods and to cut processed foods and many animal products out of my diet (there are still some things I just can't seem to give up though, but that's a story for another post). This type of diet will require better menu planning, and since I'm a horrible/lazy cook, I see the potential for food waste. I'm hoping that by typing this out, I will be able to hold myself accountable to more conscientious food habits.

I wish I could send this food waste message to the critters in my garden, namely the squirrels and birds. If you're going to eat my crops, please just take the whole thing. Don't leave half of a strawberry on the deck, or a bunch of blueberry carcasses, or half a tomato. There are humans who would love to have a whole strawberry, you know.

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