A report in the headlines last week made pretty grim reading: up to half of all food that’s produced around the world is wasted, some of which never even makes it to the consumer because its appearance isn’t up to the supermarkets’ high cosmetic standards. Morality aside (and I think we can all unequivocally agree that food waste is A Bad Thing), it’s bloody expensive to chuck out half of what’s in the fridge.
Throwing out food is one of the topics on which The Writer and I have differing approaches.
Whilst he’s pretty keen to dismiss foodstuffs that are several days past the date stamped on the packet, I’m more of the “sniff it and if it doesn’t make you retch, it probably won’t kill you” school of thought (of course, not eating meat does take a certain element of risk out of the proceedings: a floppy aubergine is unlikely to do you the same amount of damage as an elderly chicken).
It’s not hard to see where I get it from: among Pa Blonde’s many excellent and varied characteristics is that of overwhelming thrift. He has never knowingly thrown anything away, claiming everything from old bits of wood from a long-extinct garden shed to bikes, go-karts and fish tanks will “come in useful one day”. So it’s unsurprising that he’s loathe to throw away food that might otherwise be considered past its best – although he takes it a little further than most.
Whilst I’m more than happy to chop the end off a bit of fluffy Cheddar, or throw a squashy courgette into a pasta sauce, I draw the line at happily stirring mould into a yoghurt before eating it (quote: “it’s penicillin, you daft child – it won’t do you any harm at all.” Yes, Pa, it might not harm me, but heavens to Murgatroyd, it’s definitely going to harm the flavour), or putting a splash of so-geriatric-it-could-feasibly-be-called-heirloom Tabasco sauce into a recipe. As an aside: did you know if you keep a bottle of Tabasco some 10 years after its best-before date, it actually goes a murky shade of pond-bottom brown? No? Neither did I. (He, in turn, got it from Granny Blonde, whose cupboards were an Aladdin’s trove of Past Its Best – some items having survived from the days before dates were stamped onto the bottom of things which, to give an idea of context, was 1970.)
Of course, not blogging himself, and unable to put his side of the argument on the pages of the national publication for which he writes, I should say that TW is easing his stringent stance on out-of-date foodstuffs. There’s far less chucking out of milk “to be on the safe side” than there was when we first moved in together, and he even went so far as to rescue a handful of uneaten salad leaves after supper at the weekend to be re-used on another occasion. Pa Blonde would approve.
But there is some work to do. I got dagger stares the other night when I tried to suggest that a couple of eggs that had been sitting forlornly in our fridge (I know, I know – they just last longer that way) for a while might be fine for a frittata. After a small verbal skirmish, they made their way to the bin.
At this point, I’m willing to make concessions. If it’s a couple of prematurely chucked eggs, or living in fear once again that the yoghurt has become Forest Fruits with Added Mould, I know which I’d rather.