Waste No Food – An Update VI

by Katy on September 5, 2008 · 6 comments



Confession time here from the Queen of the Waste No Food Challenge.

I’m trying my very best to not waste food. Honestly. I am eating/serving up our leftovers, trying to store food in see-through containers, buying smaller amounts, and generally paying very close attention to issues of food waste.

However . . . .

I just threw out a bag of popcorn kernels due to better-left-unsaid moth issues. And I did a upper fridge clean-out yesterday that saw cantaloupe, refried beans and rice added to the buggy delight that is our compost bin.


I am going to attack the vegetable crispers/slimers this evening to free the carrots, scallions, and who-knows-what-else from their prisons. 

The thing is, I’ve really been trying hard to not waste any food. I’ve certainly noticed a marked decrease in trips to the grocery store, and a significant drop in food expenditures.

I haven’t been all bad though. I’ve actually been spending some time this week as a secret/genteel food freegan. 

I was at one of my mother’s rental cottages on Monday, treating the boys to a Pokemon movie, exclusive to cable TV. I took home a whole bag of food  a previous out-of-town guest left behind. This included:

  • A single stack of saltines.
  • Half a quart of 2% milk.
  • Ten eggs.
  • A stick of butter.
  • A tub of whipped butter.
  • A jar of Adams brand natural peanut butter that had a single swipe out of it.
  • Two boxes of opened cereal.
  • A can of refried beans.
  • Three bottles of Bud Light. (The life of a Non-Consumer Advocate is full of sacrifices!)

Had I left the food there, my mother would have thrown it out. (Except the beans and beer — that was pure thievery.) The next guest would most definitely not want already opened cereal or milk.

My other act of food freeganism came a few days later.

Out collecting free-from-Craigslist rocks for the backyard landscaping project, my sister Sara and I passed a closed-up garage sale that sported a pile of boxes and a free sign. 

We had to stop.

There were maybe a half-dozen boxes of produce from the owner’s restaurant. My sister hauled home a huge amount of tomatoes and jalapeño peppers, as well as kale and lettuce. I chose three half-wilted heads of lettuce, still sitting in a distributor’s box. A nice soak in cool water revived the lettuce — now chopped, washed and ready for salad in the fridge. 

I was tempted to take more, but I put on my self-control cap. (Similar to a dunce cap, only slightly less pointy.)

I took what I felt my family could eat. 

So . . . .

I’ve wasted some food. Although the food wastage I wrote about was from the period of a few months. And some of it was bought by well-meaning house guests. 

But . . . .

I saved some food from going to waste.

Does it equalize? The laws of physics say no. Wasted food is still wasted food.

I am definitely getting better, but I need to continue increasing our family’s food waste awareness.

Want to read more about the issues related to food waste? Make sure to check out Jonathan Bloom’s site:


Katy Wolk-Stanley, flying her freeg flag.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Update: I just cleaned out the vegetable crispers, which is apparently a misnomer. Who knew zucchini came in a liquid form?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo September 5, 2008 at 2:17 am

Well done on the food front. I have been fighting food waste as well. My successes include: buying only organic vegies – so much more expensive that I obsessively check them every other day because my budget cannot stand any wastage. I have begun to serve a vegie crudite platter every evening at dinner which deals with most vegies before they go off. Each week we have one meal of vegie soup to use up anything left in the fridge before next shopping day. I have been ‘shopping’ in my pantry as well – desperately trying to come up with creative meal ideas to use up the very large number of dry goods lurking at the back of the cupboards before they go off. And swearing off so much bulk buying. I’ve found it to be counter productive, as so much more is wasted if we decide we don’t really like it…


CT September 5, 2008 at 6:37 am

Ha! I’m not the only one thrilled to find someone else’s grocery leftovers. I had subletters leave my apartment with two air conditioners running full blast for at least a week, tripling my electric bill, but that didn’t diminish my delight at finding (all organic!) yogurt, popsicles, cereal, juice, milk, etc.

As for produce, when it starts wilting, I highly recommend chopping and freezing. No, those carrots won’t be good for nibbling ever again, but they’ll be fine in soup. Scallions I freeze all the time, because they go bad so quickly. Here’s a crazy scallion tip: if they come with roots attached, cut off the white root portion and pop them in a pot of dirt or even a glass of water. You’ll get a second batch of scallions!

My husband just shakes his head at all this lunacy. There are worse hobbies!


Marcia September 5, 2008 at 8:35 am

Thanks for the great reminders about taking care of our food supply. It’s so easy to not be mindful about it. I’ve been enjoying picking lots of free blackberries this month. I’ve also noticed a few apple trees around the neighborhood whose apples keep falling to the ground. Good, ripe apples! One neighbor encourages us to gather the extra apples, while another just lets them sit on the roadside waiting for passersby. I’ve seen this for a few years now, so I’m not shy anymore about gathering a few if they’re in good shape. Time to make applesauce!


thenonconsumeradvocate September 5, 2008 at 8:35 am

The carrots were completely rubbery and growing little hairy roots. (Cute in a way.)

The scallions were slime-city. I actually really hate scallions. Once eaten, I feel all “raw-oniony” for about 24 hours. They were bought by my sister in July, I think.

The leftovers in my fridge right now are:

– Small amount of pesto.
– Small amount of leftover orange chicken.
– Refried beans.

It shouldn’t be too hard to eat these up.

Thanks to everyone for your your helpful comments.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Mrs Green September 5, 2008 at 11:37 pm

I think you have done so well; yes, you wasted a little food, but you saved so much more from ending up in the landfill. The habits of breaking away from our ‘consume MORE’ culture takes a long time to work through.

The rubbery carrots with the hairy roots; I still use those in soup – they taste fine, but slimey thing – forget it!! Into the compost they go.

Bay leaves strewn about your stores can prevent some pesky things eating grains – not sure about moths, but they certainly deter weevils in flour.

Enjoy your freegan loot; that was sensational!


Kristen September 6, 2008 at 4:44 am

Good job!! I know all too well how hard it is to avoid wasting food…it feels like a full-time job sometimes.

I do like you do and try to keep a running tab of the leftovers in my fridge. I’m always happy when I have just three items like you do right now!


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