The Nanna-Technology of food waste

Rubbish seems to have become a bit of a fixation for us lately. We were pretty rapt to get our family of four’s rubbish down to a standard supermarket bag a week but it has prompted us to think about what we used to throw out. It turns out a lot of it is food waste, close to a thousand kilograms per household ( Whilst it would be nice to think that all that organic waste is going to enrich the soil in some way, I’m afraid the reality is that it actually ends  up contributing a fair whack to methane emissions (another greenhouse gas) as it rots. So what to do? Well we figure that we’re already doing okay since growing your own food decreases waste, our chooks eat a lot of our scraps and what they won’t, the worms will have a fair crack at. But I’m thinking that the next step for our family is to bring in more ‘technology’, nanna-technology. You see I’m of the belief that we already have a load of answers about how to decrease our food waste and it hasn’t come about from an environmental conscience, it was just done because times were tough and things were not as plentiful back then so people were thriftier. So here are a couple of nanna-tech hints to get you going:

  • Use the whole item. How much stuff do you throw out of habit? For example, do you use the broccoli flowers and then discard the stalk? Next time slice it up and include some in the dish. It works remarkably well in a lot of dishes such as curry and stir fries and is really tasty.
  • Repurpose. Had chicken last night? Then you’ve got the beginning of some homemade stock. My dad tells me that when times were tough they used the bare chicken carcass for soup the next day, he also says that it was horrible. So as a soup maybe not but a chicken carcass, the outside leaves of brassica’s or onions, the stalks of mushrooms and loads more can all form the basis of a stock for future use. Or do you find yourself throwing our stale bread? Why not freeze it then when you next have the oven on, spread it on a tray and before you know it bread crumbs! Or use over ripe bananas and other fruit for banana bread.
  • Dispose intelligently. Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen as well as other minerals so don’t throw it away. Add it to your compost, use it as a snail and slug barrier or just mix it with some water and throw it on the garden.
  • Use leftovers. With a bit of rice, some pasta or a couple of sheets of pastry most leftovers can be reincarnated into something for lunch or dinner the next day, in fact I’m pretty sure this is how pasties came into being!

Above all, challenge some perceptions of what food is, how much we need and what it should look like. The concept of only using food that is perfect is not only massively wasteful but when you think about it, it’s just plain creepy. Surely a bug in a lettuce, a worm in an apple or a carrot that’s longer or shorter than ‘normal’ is a reassurance that it’s not some sort of pesticide laced ‘franken-fruit’ rather than a reason to chuck it. But hey if you don’t want to save some money, decrease your waste and make more with less then keep chucking, just don’t tell your nanna!