Sunday, August 25, 2013

Food Passion or Food Fashion?

pockmarked and disregarded; an apple in a world of glossy food photographs.

Food passion or food fashion?..In a week of focusing on the 2013 Zero Food Waste Week, there will be many angles from which to see the way our ingrained appetites affect our impacting waste environment; and enlarging waists.

Tradition rides on the back of hunger, and as historical observers can attest, waves of famines have carried poor nutritional habits to perdition. The most notable in the last centuries being Ireland and Darfur, passing by Biaffra. For every mother who has ever invoked the sight of bony starvelings to induce her children to happily taste their fare, there is a larger truth behind the despair of food waste.

Those reading from a conveniently located screen may have to use imagination to feel the full weight of near starvation. Several agricultural movements have imbalanced food production since global trading began. Larger, more powerful means of cultivation and transportation made it too easy to manipulate the markets.

For millenia, middlemen have conspired to speed up growth and containment of food distribution. I obtain sugar from Hawaii, cloves from Zanzibar or vanilla purely extracted of Jamaican exotic! Recipes goad me to use more of each, more of every ingredient at each social turn of event. Spice of life means raking, prodding earth and utilizing distant resources, human and otherwise. I can' t lose one single gram of these precious commodities. That's sacrilegious!

Foodies are the new gourmets, they have brought culinary arts to the doorstep of every reader of cuisine blogs. Digital photography has enhanced saliva secretion over wide publications across the entire planet. I am sure there is a Jivaro, right now, sitting in a hammock under a thatch roof, thumbing through delicious shots of head cheese on pickled grape leaves from Greece, elegantly displayed on silver platters.

Satellite communications disregard political frontiers to the point of elevating expectations in any random area. Discontent rises with technological progress. Grandma grumbles when dial-up slows down her new recipe download. Neighbors find better cookie patterns. Teachers make funnier faces on their weekly cupcakes. Food fashion is out of control...and who's gonna clean up the mess? I mean THE mess. Shipping miles, oil spills, mechanical problems, trucker's motel bills, somebody's gotta pay for all that. Somebody' s gonna get hungry for that.

Ask any kid in lunch line if he knows where his food is coming from and you won't need to switch on the comedy channel for a month. His parents are so alienated from the farmers, packers or milkers that it' s very easy for him to chuck the food in the bin. Oh the waste! Where is Darfur again? Oh yeah, I forgot, children starve there, the school holds a subscription to National Geographic; so I am aware.

Food waste is not just about hunger, it is about the damaging attitudes growing as fast as mold around us. It is not the half bun, the bread crust or the apple with one bite out of it sticking out of the lunch box. It is about the lack of pleasure in the face of the child. It' s about the disgust in the adult's eye in the cereal aisle. How about the sadness in my eye when I pass what should be fresh and local foods, now imprisoned under plastic wrap with cartoon figures winking at short wailing beggars from the shopping basket seat.

Time to give credit to my own, I've never had to poke or prod mine to clean their plates, they left very little reason to wash dishes at all. No matter what was served straight from garden or desert. OK, the burnt meat did not pass the test, how could I ever forget that? and one still doesn't like watermelon. But I waste here!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zero Waste prep post.

What binds writers and readers together in any measure is the humanity. I wish to approach the experience of Zero Waste Week from such a standpoint; not as a scientific exposé. The only research I will rely on is empiric - mine by will or accident, (and I 've had plenty of the later). My whole kitchen, my entire life has been a more or less joyful experiment in living according to the laws of nature, rather than strictly those of mere men.
 these tiny toms were ready for chutney...

I suspect our attitudes are formed early, eating habits seem ingrained by age two, oh yes I have observed lots of these little creatures that spit and squawk at the sight of vegetables..I 've been subjected to amazing restaurant displays of wee ones screaming for something 'other' than what they were served. And don't forget the parents, scoffing at a perfectly presentable dish of magnificent look behind the eatery and you' ll find all these wonderful cuts of expensive items, some nearly intact; that's enough to make a zero waster march back in and shove the indecent leftovers in the large purses of the offensive patrons.. alright I never have acted on such unsociable impulses..just indulging my wild imagination here.

Waste is no longer acceptable on a planet carrying more than seven billion people, oof! That's a lot of mouths. Think that I can instantaneously feel guilty when I must send rough peelings to the soil enrichment program; compost pile or bin..well it is a rare day when I put in more than eggshells and coffee grounds or tea leaves on there. My usual installments run along the truly indigestible or the rare rancid range of neglect. In the days when I had a VITAMIX, a superb blender by name, I included eggshells and banana peels in the smoothies for calcium phosphates and potassium. Although I did not enunciate each mineral benefit, my children still benefited of a free science lesson at every meal. It worked! Oh yes, they still eat well, in fine health.
this is the recycled industrial vacuum container for food and paper waste compost bin; see it works!

My humble secondhand blender makes use of overripe fruits and end-of-cycle vegetables. Many speedy wonders can be performed with past-their-prime veges. For example, cukes and kale leaves for a spontaneous creamy vichyssoise cold soup; just add sour cream, sea salt, pepper or in my case, a garlic clove. For Zero Waste Week, I shall drop some taste hints about more successful ways to make-do-make good recipes to avoid any waste of ANY FOOD..math tells me that zero means nada, none, zilch. That's always been my subconscious aim.

Morality does not necessarily motivate the act of saving foodstuffs, frugality plays a part in the daily activity of an inveterate saver, of course..but I believe the innate gratitude of a person remains an inherent factor in that kind of behavior toward natural resources. Well, natural has become a 'relative term' in GMO parlance. Unless you have lots of free time or money to shop carefully, you may be saving something more than organic substance. Unless you grow your own (I mean foods) you run the flexible risk of adopting unknown ingredients to sustain bodies and minds.

So, are we ready to face a whole week of No waste? Easy for me to say; this coincides with a huge cache of garden harvest. I am the fortunate recipient of gorgeous tomatoes and cucumbers from folks who appreciate my utter appreciation of their bounty. And then I have my own squash and onions, melons and grapes, apples or pears. What is a cook to do? Can-can-can do. I will illustrate the lazy kitchen maid's way to preserve goodies, so that only tails and apple worms are returned to such generous dirt as I am glad to have right here in compost heaven... 

Read you later! Comments are a rich source of innovation; crossing toes, hoping to learn and enjoy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Going to Zero Waste Week.

In a very productive year on my food agenda, I dare not complain. In 2013 yardening (that's turning your yard into a garden with a Y)  has been proven to satisfy my chewing muscles. Now, how do I store and eat all of this abundance? There shall be no waste in this household. I aim to starve the compost pile and put the worms on a diet. This is my 'Zero Waste Week pledge!

Although I have been a near zero waster for all of my conscious life, I find there is some possibility of refining the art of home foods management. My inspiration is kept current by reading the writings of Rachelle Strauss, aka, Mrs green at My Zero Waste blog. She is a diligent router of all manner of wasteful behavior and a positive influence on the path to personal or corporate responsibility. Her honest and thorough posts, her family videos and tips incite readers to reduce, use, re-use or recycle all that is bought.

The annual event of ' Zero Waste Week' is coming up in September and I am ready to join the fray. Not exactly a frenzy as I live in a far off rural community, but accessible by medium low tech laptop the second of next month, I should have enough photos and how-to's to satisfy the do-it-yourself saver of precious nutritional resources. Please follow the recycled brick path to my yarden and climb the wooden stairs to the kitchen for a peak at how a french born writer remains dedicated to some modicum of preservation.

Mind set at zero: no cement block necessary to keep freezer door locked, no double stacking canned goods or jars of preserves in the gluttonous cupboards. I am saving for a food dryer < next year>.

Meanwhile back at our humble home;
dried foods take much less space than canned goods, so, I thread a needle with strong cotton and pass it through the goodies..usually in the center because it is unnerving to have to pick up your gardening efforts from the floor, no matter how clean it is..and a pitiful picture of me on all fours blowing dust before the project is completely ruined. 'True Grit' is a movie, not a crunchy food alternative.

Washed and towel dried mushrooms Agarics, boletus, chanterelles or morels, or cleaned, cubed fruit, apple slices, pears, apricots, plums or veges such as peppers, carrots, rutabaga, winter squash, all keep well when sliced thin enough to dry in a day or two for good measure. Hang in convenient area, away from walking patterns ( our basement has adequate ventilation, so I can suspend my scrumptious garlands from the beams with strong nails, of course) and set a fan on high, till the poor veges and fruits of the land are reduced to shriveling remnants of their former beauty.

To store the winter treats, I loosely roll some around in a bowl of cinnamon sugar for snacks, or simply stack the thinly sliced yellow or green squash in clean, dry glass jars, store in darkest corners of shelves to add to soups, sauces or use as dip chips..mmm!

For my flop of the day, I confess that tomatoes have not been my most successful drying experiment; they slid off, squished together and ultimately ran away with molds and mildews prior to joining some other failed trial in the very forgiving compost area. Someone has to feed the beneficial nematodes?

Reminder to self—save for food dryer-- <or make one out of wood slats and nylon screen, plus fan>. Plan to shrink a few exotics when on sale..kiwis, pineapples, bananas, seedless grapes, mangoes, papayas, quince..I think I hear the strawberries squirming in their patch out back!

I am definitely no joiner, but this is something I can use to sharpen my ecological muscles.
Zero Waste Week, Sept 2-8 2013.wherever you are..on facebook or at