Food riots are in the news. Meanwhile, the New York Times talks about the fact that food prices for Americans, as a fraction of income, are almost at an all-time low; and that Americans waste 27% of the food available.
This is one respect in which I have been unable to “go native”.
I don’t remember exactly what my mother said to me as a child. I remember being told about starving children. It was probably more about getting me to eat what I was given, rather than getting me not to leave anything, but the programming worked so well that even now, I find it almost impossible to throw away food.
If I order at a restaurant, the amount of food I get is the amount I eat. If I have to, I take some of it home and eat it the next day. If rothko takes leftovers home and doesn’t eat them, I eat them for her so they won’t be wasted. If something has gone somewhat past its “best before” date, she won’t touch it. The same is true of leftovers that have been around for more than a day.
Me, I won’t throw it away unless it smells, tastes or looks bad, or I have sound scientific reasons to think it unsafe. For instance, on Friday I found a small amount of Philadelphia cream cheese that had a best before date in March. It looked fine, so I ate it. (It tasted fine too, and if it was going to poison me it would have done so by now.) If there had been some mold on it, I’d have cut off the moldy bit and eaten the rest. After all, what is cheese but fancy moldy milk?
Rice shouldn’t be re-heated repeatedly. If I ate meat, I’d be careful with that. Fish can’t really be re-heated. But most of what I eat keeps pretty well, so I rarely end up throwing anything away.
Sometimes I have to arrange my meals based on what needs to be eaten. If I buy a bag of salad, that means I have to have salad every day for the next few days, so that none of it will go to waste.
If we have guests over and food is involved, it’s always fresh, and there’s usually leftovers. If we make espresso brownies for book club, I know what I’ll be having for breakfast the next day.
I feel that if I buy food and don’t eat it, that’s a moral failing. Food is something precious. You simply do not waste food, just like you do not burn books.