January 22, 2010

Food Waste Friday

I'm pretty disappointed (annoyed) with this week's waste because a) what more can I do with grains besides store them in a sealed container? and b) I searched for this stuff - bulgar wheat - in three different stores before I found it, and c) it's only a few months old!

So, I don't really know what I could have or should have done differently. I haven't found that much difference between containers or jars I bought before I was doing The Compact and these old spaghetti jars. We use glass containers for nuts, rice, and grains, and most of the time it works, but occasionally the moths still get in. Moths! I have traps, I use containers, what more can I do?

This is turning into a very whiny post, so I'll stop now. But if you have any ideas I can use and pass along on this blog, please let me know. I could use some help.

Otherwise, we did a good job this week of eating out of the Eat Me! section of the refrigerator, especially my husband, who was a champ at coming up with strange combinations for his lunch burritos. He told me lentils aren't that great in burritos, even with cheese. I would never have even tried it, so kudos to him for having an open mind.

This week I stopped by My Zero Waste, which tells the story of the Green family and their quest to produce just one trash bin for the year. While there, I happened upon this article from the London Times about a family in Britain who realizes how much food they're wasting, and their attempts to do something about it. It's well-written and entertaining. My favorite part is when the father drags the food waste out of the trash and makes family members 'fess up about what they tossed and why. It's like a police line up, but with humor and affection, and without the threat of incarceration.

Check out The Frugal Girl to see how other bloggers are documenting their food waste in an attempt to waste less. It's a win/win for the environment and your wallet!

Doing this experiment has made me realize what a luxury having any food waste at all really is. I don't remember ever throwing ANYTHING out when I was a college student and always broke. And there are certainly a lot of undernourished people around the world who can't imagine throwing away perfectly good food because you forgot about it, you bought too much, or you weren't in the mood for it that night. Which goes back to my number one tip for wasting less: buy less food in the first place.

Please leave your tips, advice, and questions in the Comments section. Especially if you know how to outsmart those tricky moths, the ones that are immune to the moth trap and work their way inside a tightly closed jar.


J. said...

I hate to tell you this, but if you've been keeping the grains in an air-tight jar, it's likely that the moth larvae were in the grains when you bought them! In future, you might want to freeze any grains you bring home (including flour) for at least a few days to kill off any potential pests. I find this especially helpful when buying grains from the bulk bins at the health food store.

sloejennfizz said...

I was going to say the same thing. Stick everything in the freezer for 2 days & you should be good.

Cate said...

I've never had problems with moths, but after reading the first two comments...eek! I might have to start freezing all our grains, because I'm freaked out. Particularly the bulk bin ones..

That was a really neat article from the London Times. I especially liked the "saving money will buy us more ice cream" logic!

Non Consumer Girl said...

Over the past months, I have changed how I shop for food. Instead of a big weekly shopping trip in the car, I shop every couple of days.
I plan my meals for a couple of days, prepare a shopping list for the ingredients only ( including food for breakfast and lunches) and only buy what is on the list.
I walk to the nearby shops and then I only buy what I can carry home!

This has meant that my food waste is usually minimal.

Castal said...

Definitely follow the freeze rule. I have trouble with cornmeal now, since I found my nest of moths (in dried apples... Apples!) Every bag I get from the markets here have small black beetles in them that just love to start growing and multiplying once they get home. I have to keep it all in the freezer to keep from losing it, since freezing does not seem to kill these beetle eggs. Luckily I don't go through much cornmeal (unless I have lots of chili... then cornbread happens) so I just buy it in smaller quantities and toss it in the freezer.

At least the meal moths are gone from my kitchen now that I have gotten rid of the nest. Any new outcrops are easily avoided by freezing them to death!

Emily, Bob and Etta said...

Our family volunteered at the local Salvation Army soup kitchen tonight so your comment about "a luxury having any food waste at all..." really came home. I am (too often) lamenting our "little" food budget but forget just how blessed we are with everything that we have. Thanks for reminding us.

hiptobeme said...

Yeah, I don't think the moths climbed inside the jar. I think they hatched inside the jar. I have been seriously reconsidering my bulk aisle purchases since finding a tiny particle of glass(!) in some powdered parmesan cheese. Yikes. The thought of how this food may be handled is making it tough for me to fill up a little baggie with those communal scoops these days. I need some assurance when I buy food, even if the packaging is a false sense of security, I still feel better about it somehow.

Alea said...

When I lived in So Cal. I stored my grains and flours in the freezer.

I have been following your suggestion to buy less food and it really helps minimize food waste.

Amber and Ian Darnell said...

I agree with Non Consumer Girl. My husband and I are living in Italy right now and all we have is a small mini fridge in the kitchen, so we are forced to buy less and plan more. We plan meals for a few days and only buy what we need for those meals. Then we go back to the store a few days later when our supply runs out. We're also on a fairly tight budget, which helps inspire a only-buy-what-we-absolutely-need-and-will-use mentality! But it seems like you're doing very well, one jar isn't too bad! :)

namu said...

hi - -
i was going to say freeze them seal. but yes, likely the grains are coming home with the larvae in them. i suppose this is natural, albeit somewhat gross.

we had a "moth issue a couple of years ago. tossed everything - now freeze as soon as we get it home, then seal.

good luck

danielle said...

What about just storing the bulk grains in the fridge? Does that do the trick? (That's what I do and haven't had any problems yet.) Angela, was your jar in the fridge or out?


Angela said...

Thanks for the advice everyone!

I have heard of that before and I froze the last bag of flour I bought. I'm just going to have to remember to freeze all grains from now on. Into the freezer it goes!

I may try just keeping it in the refrigerator as well, it doesn't seem like it could do any harm.

Thanks again!

AL S-I-L said...

I was going to make the same comment as J...if moths appeared inside the jar, then the larva or whatever was already in the grain! But just remember, if we don't ingest SOME flotsam throughtout our lives, we don't build up the immunities we need to survive! LOL

Mariana said...

On some things, you can actually see small holes in the packaging from where the little critters have chewed their way into the bags. I freeze everthing. Living in the South, we grew up doing this and it has served me well all my life. Rice and dried beans are especially prone to bugs but don't stand a chance in my freezer.