Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eating Scraps

To be honest, I never really knew what was the big deal about food waste being tossed out into the landfills. I mean, I've heard about it and all, how that it's a bad thing for the environment, I just did not get why. Nor cared enough to bother taking five minutes to Google about it to find out the reason, until now. (Is Google as a verb supposed to be lower case? Haven't troubled myself to figure that one out yet, either.)

So yeah. I kind of just took for granted what was being said by the greener people than I am, that our uneaten scraps of food were, like so much other stuff, contributing to the detriment of the environment. I could not reconcile in my own head, however (what little time I did spend thinking on it) why tossing leftovers into our own compost bins is an eco-friendly thing to do, but having it hauled away by others to rot elsewhere was an entirely different and bad thing.

Well, consider me educatated now via
"Rotting food in the landfill releases methane, a green house gas which contributes to global warming. Methane traps 23 times as much heat in the atmosphere as the same amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and the release of methane from landfills accounts for 34 percent of all methane emissions in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
I guess even organic trash can be bad news. Which would explain why the composters are forever tossing and fluffing about in their piles, letting in the oxygen that keeps it rotting in a better way. Okay, makes sense now why keeping so much from being dumped is a good thing.

What is the best way, of course, to not have to deal with so much food thrown away in the first place is to quit doing it so much. I'm seriously amazed since I've started hanging on to what I used to just toss out, not enough to keep, actually turns out to be an awful lot to use up.

Sure, that is a fine green thing to do, and a right way to think of it, but you would be surprised also how much less food you need to buy to make it through the week. I know that now.

Only fairly recently have I started storing away what little of this or that I have left over, just to see how things added up and if I could remake something out of what I'd normally just chuck. Interesting what you can do with garbage.

For example, recently I had not much left of a bag of Chex mix (well, whatever the store brand, you know me) that had gone stale. Certainly no longer snackable, that's for sure. I had also saved a couple of chicken legs (this was my pre-straight-up vegetarian conversion) that I didn't know what to do with.

Other bits and pieces I would normally not have kept: just a couple of spoonfuls of green beans I had put in an empty yogurt container, an extra single hamburger bun that had seen fresher days, and a couple of shriveled up potatoes left over from last summer's garden, all sprouted out, eyes all over them.

Let me say, I had one delicious dinner that evening made up with my own trashy ingredients! Those Chex mix thingys, I crushed them to a coarse grind and mixed in with some parmesan cheese, a great coating for the left chicken dunked in a little milk and egg so it would stick. Baked it in the oven until it was quite crispy, and a very flavorful coating it made indeed.

The green beans that seemed hardly worth keeping when left scattered out in the pot first time around, scooped together and kept were a perfectly-sized portion. The bun, stale or not, with some butter, garlic powder and some parmesan heat up in the oven was a nice toast to go along with the rest of it.

I found out that potatoes, no matter how shriveled and rather rubbery after sitting around for so long, they really are not so scary after all, once those alien sprouts are taken off. And they seemed to cook up just fine, sliced up and fried with some onion.

Not only was it really, really tasty, but I enjoyed a full-size meal made up almost exclusively from all garbage for virtually free. I didn't have to spend even so much as a buck-twenty-five for a frozen dinner, and ate very well on the cheap. Put all together, a little of this and that made up a pretty full course.

Obviously I do not have a garbage disposal (the landfill problem would be a moot issue then) but even if I had one, rethinking those dabs of leftovers not being good for very much, well... you would be surprised what you can actually make of them.

Save some coin, keep the noxious gasiness to yourself rather than the landfill, and feel better not throwing away so much food, what with those starving children in China or India or whatever was your mother's country of choice.

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