Wednesday, 16 January 2013

In which I waste not, want not

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.


Love Cat said...

I am with you on the making the most of food. I can make a chicken last a whole week and no 2 meals will be the same! The bloke just loves to buy food, eat one mouthful and then leave it in the fridge to fester.

I feel like I'm constantly on a 'what is in the frige and what can we make out of it mindset'.

Blonde said...

Love Cat: It does definitely stretch the creative juices to have to concoct whole meals out of fridge pickings!

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I did this with eggs not long ago. I wanted an egg for my carbonara, but the best before date was 26th December. So it was a week or so past the best before, and I asked my housemate if she reckoned it'd be ok.

After about half an hour of looking at the egg and smelling it, we came to the conclusion that "aren't eggs either alright or they're not" (as in, if they smell of rotten egg, then it's a no go)

Anyway, I used it, didn't die. But still get confused by the "best before" stuff. Hummus is always "use by xxx" or "within 2 days". But surely it can't kill you?

nuttycow said...

I'm afraid I'm a little on the wasteful side, or at least I used to be. I've now started shopping little and often which, although is more expensive, does mean at least that there's less waste.

That said, I draw the line at mould in yoghurts. Yes, it's penicillin but still! Ew.

Blonde said...

PDEWYMO: Irritatingly, apparently eggs are one thing you shouldn't eat after about two days past. Something to do with the latent salmonella bacteria. I don't buy it, myself - if I'm really concerned, I'll stick them in water (the sink /float test), but otherwise I reckon they're good for a week or so. As you say - we're not dead yet. Hummus goes mouldy quite quickly, I think. Not that it lasts long enough in our flat to find out.

Blonde said...

NC: Mould in yoghurts is definitely Not Cool. Pa Blonde is adamant though, that unless it's the orange mould (which is dangerous), it's fine. Yeuch.

Alex said...

You know the glass of water / egg trick right? That ought to settle those arguments!

I'm getting quite into the whole "getting four meals out a carrot" malarkey.

Mike said...

Blonde: National Public Radio is with you. While admittedly it's not your National, I suspect the advice is intercontinental.

Blonde said...

Alex: I do! A useful trick. And if you do manage to get four meals out of a carrot, would you let me know?!

Mike: Hello! We've not seen round you here for a while. Welcome back. That's a great piece - it's good to see sense spreading globally.

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