My husband, Tom, is the best food recycler I know. Today he whipped up an omelet for us consisting of six eggs, red bell pepper and tomatoes left over from last night’s salad, a scrap of red pepper from the fridge and a little red wine, also from last night. He sautéed the peppers and tomatoes and cooked a few small red potatoes in the microwave. He chopped up the taters and added all the vegetables to the eggs, which were already cooking. For good measure, Tom tossed a few drops of Tabasco in the pan. The result was a hearty and delicious omelet that I didn’t have to make. Even our son, Jake, who’s not much of an egg eater, enjoyed it.
Tom’s always been enthusiastic about eating and lately, much to my delight, he’s taken more of an interest in cooking. He gets his “re-use, recycle” mentality from his French mother, Hélenè, a wonderful home cook who loves using leftovers and hates wasting food.
“It’s a thorn in my side to see perfectly good food go to waste,” Tom says. “If you have a bunch of good ingredients lying around, why not use them?”
Using leftovers to make meals takes some thought. Sometimes it’s just easier to pitch those leftovers and make a meal using all new ingredients. But cutting down on food waste is a worthy goal especially when you consider roughly 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in this country goes to waste.
“In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently noted.
The amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at almost $390 per U.S. consumer in 2008, which the government says is more than an average month’s worth of food spending.
Those numbers are hard to swallow. They should make you think twice about tossing yesterday’s salad.
In June, the U.S.D.A. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, the anti-hunger group, Feeding America, the anti-poverty group, Rock and Wrap It Up!, and food manufacturers, introduced the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a campaign aimed at reducing food waste through education and other activities.
Are you doing anything in your own home to cut down on the amount of food you throw away?