Today I bring you this fun quiz from CNN, which talks about what we can do to keep our planet. I totally failed it, by the way. I think I got a 40%. If you take the quiz, you will see that a lot of it has to do with curbing our waste, in particular food waste.
I’ve told this story before, so if it sounds familiar, please skip it. When Gordon and I were young, before kids came along, we rented a shack at the top of the mountain in NC, the only shack we could afford. It was a drafty flimsy house, with a wood stove as its sole source of heat. In the winter we would sleep next to it on the floor in the living room, because it was too cold to sleep anywhere else. Our rent was $200 per month.
NC gets snow storms pretty much every winter, but that winter we were hit by a massive snow fall. Knowing it was coming, we went to the store and stocked up. We bought enough meat for at least three weeks, vegetables, milk, cheese.
The storm hit and our power went out. The first day we huddled by the stove. On the second morning my then-fiance made a critical decision to risk driving down the mountain in the snow to go to his aunt’s and uncle’s house, which still had power. He got us there in one piece.
The storm passed, but the county took its time turning the power back on. When we came back, five days after the power went out, I opened the freezer and it smelled like a dead body.
We had to get a garbage bag and throw out everything we bought. We had no money to replace food. I cried. I’ve never cried over food before. I just remember feeling completely hopeless. It left a deep psychological scar.
As soon as we could afford it, I bought a chest freezer and filled it with food, because it made me feel safe. Then once every six months or so I would throw out rock-hard freezer burned food and put more in there. Because safe. Diving into that freezer was like being in a spaceship and finding an ancient cryogenic pod. If I had found a frozen alien in there, I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised.
The average American throws out 300 lbs of food per year.The Swag
Every pound of food is paid for with energy. Planting it, growing it, harvesting it, transporting it, refrigerating it… Lots and lots of energy. The more we conserve, the less wasted energy.
I shudder to think how much energy I wasted with that freezer over ten years. I’m proud to say we have no chest freezer. I also don’t try to buy an entire year’s worth of food anymore. I buy enough for a week and that’s that.
I do other things to try to waste less. I gave up on plastic containers, because they inevitably end up in the garbage. I have reusable straws, although I don’t all the time use them, because I suck. I try to cook just enough to avoid leftover nobody will eat. I am trying to talk Gordon into letting me have a big old compost bin. I want my kids and their kids to have a habitable planet. But I have to tell you, the first time I decided to clean the freezer and not buy anymore food to go into it, well, it almost killed me.