Saturday, 19 December 2009

A question of waste

Earlier this week I reposted this Food Flash from the Ministry of Food. As usual with these pithy 20-second cinema shorts, it was informative without lecturing. And it occurs to me that we should be seeing similar stuff on TV and online now.

The modern recycling campaigns, aimed at young people, are all very well. But recycling is the final option, not the first one. When my mum cooks, she uses virtually everything for something (and online I've discovered that onion skins can be used for stock making; and even potato skins can be fried for crisps if you're desperate enough, although this idea came from someone writing about their experiences of Berlin in the winter of 1945 where things were indeed desperate; the same site appears to have a recipe that requires you to throw away the potato and keep only the skins, which makes me weep). I'm always much more slapdash. The top third of a leek is often mud-filled; it's so much easier to cut it off, throw it away and cook the tight white part alone. Onion skins are easiest to remove if you allow the top layer(s) of onion to be sacrificed with them. Virtually everything fresh has a part that could be used and I throw it away for convenience.

With luck, this experiment will purge me of such foolish notions. I'm supposed to be an environmentalist, yet with no garden and "no time" (made available), I happily throw away tremendous amounts of off-cuts.

Now, that's not as bad as throwing away edible food, or the slightly greater sin of throwing away food that has been over-bought and allowed to go off. But it's still waste and it's still foolish.

So even if this experiment doesn't work, or stops on January 31 with a trite post about how hard it was, what I really want is to walk away with a sense that every scrap has some value somewhere.

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