I just read that Americans throw out 15% of the fruits and vegetables they purchase. It is an appalling statistic, especially in few of coming food shortages. When you look at food going into the trash, think of it as life energy and get creative about how it could be used to nurture your family.

I have witnessed people throw the heels of bread into the garbage. I bake a lot of our bread and I don’t want to waste a crumb. The heels make good toast. If not used for that, They go into the freezer to be made into bread pudding, stuffing, bread crumbs or croutons when I have enough saved. I often pull out a few pieces of bread that was going stale to make a crumb topping for a casserole or a coating for meat. Bread can be used right from the freezer as it thaws in just a minute or two. Rice is saved for rice pudding or reheated in milk with some raisins and brown sugar for a quick breakfast. Leftover potatoes are fried for breakfast or added to a cup of chicken broth, some cream and a bit of cheddar cheese, then whizzed in the blender for a potato soup. I do the same with broccoli, asparagus and squash. Quiche is a good place to hide a bit of dried cheese and that quarter cup of leftover vegetables. Of course you are saving all of your vegetable ends for soup but did you know you can add almost any cooked cereal to your bread dough? I never toss that last bit of boxed cereal. I toss it in on to or into a casserole.

If you aren’t eating the food yourself, it should be feeding compost, worms or backyard farm animals. Chickens, rabbits and pigs will turn left over produce into high quality meat or eggs. If you don’t have animals, maybe someone else will make use of what you have.

Too many kids are brought up believing that they don’t have to eat what they don’t care for. They think all food should be sweet or salty or entertaining. What I tell my kids is they don’t have to like a food but they do have to eat a reasonable amount. They can pick one or two thing they just not stand but even then they are expected to eat a no thank you bite. Most kids are not too heavy because their parents make them finish their vegetables; they are too heavy because they eat too much fat and sugar. My kids are expected to bring 2 snacks to school. It’s silly. They get breakfast at home, lunch at school and they are home at 3:00. They do not need a morning and afternoon snack as well. I have been at school at lunch time and most of the food goes straight into the garbage, especially the vegetables. Granted, I wouldn’t want to eat overcooked, canned green beans either but if kids were offered a healthy lunch when they were genuinely hungry, most would eat. Schools would save money by serving raw vegetable with a dip instead of canned stuff.

Years ago, a family in town would go to the school and get the lunch leftovers to feed to their pet pig, a huge sow named Suzy. Yankee Magazine ran a storey about it and, next thing you know, the school is informed that they could not give the garbage away. It was against some health code. Sometimes you just have to scratch your head.