“Waste Not, Want Not!” Life lessons learned are best taught in sensible, tangible and very practical ways in the home. So how does one convey to kids the importance of living in the Land of PLENTY, while others live on hardly nothing? With a simple challenge of saving our families food scraps for one week, the results were quite surprising!
There is a ‘balance’ to everything in life, which is how we keep a natural rhythm in the everyday, BUT to justify the waste that is put forth from this country with my findings is neither a balance nor rhythm. IT IS SIMPLY PUT, WASTEFUL!
Four children with four very different personalities, mixed with four ways of eating is a constant challenge when one cook/baker produces the meals to be consumed. A pattern was beginning to develop amongst my 10 & 7-year-old, who were open-minded to MOST food choices presented, yet in the last year or so has now become a matter of opinionated ‘pickiness’. What I am referencing, which will identify with some, are the statements, ‘I don’t like that,’ ‘Do I have to eat that,’ ‘I’m not eating that,’ ‘What is that,’ ‘EWWW that looks gross,’ ‘Why do you not make meals I really like,’ and the list goes on. After spending sometimes an hour preparing a nutritious meal, and then to hear the words ‘I’M NOT EATING THAT’ or constantly cajoling them into taking bites, I began to take it personally.
My ‘time’ as the chef and the food being wasted became a source of contention at meal times. I decided to come up with a simple way to show my kids what is NOT being consumed, after time spent preparing it. With a gallon size plastic bag I saved all non-consumed food scraps, and in just 7 days the bag slowly filled itself to the halfway point…..WOW is all I can say. I had no idea the waste generated by one family.
~So out of some really smelly food scraps came a great discussion, leading to an estimated breakdown of what our family would ‘waste’ and the cost. The results are a little shocking…
Family of 6 ‘Wasted Food’
- One Week= 1/2 filled gallon size bag of food scraps collected
- One Month= Estimation of 3 filled bags collected
- Six Months= Estimation of 18 filled bags collected
- 1 Year= Estimation of 36 filled bags collected
- 5 Years= Estimation of 180 bags collected
Estimated Cost Per ‘Wasted Food’ Bag
- We estimated that our 1/2 filled gallon size bag would be about $10 & a full bag is $20.
- 1 Year x 36 Bags= $720
- 5 Years x 180 Bags= $3,600
I have to admit that last point is the shocker, $3,600!!!! WOWZA……I had never realized that food wasted & cost are so intertwined. My kids were so taken aback by how many bags in 5 years we would have collected (180), and the amount of money that would have been thrown away as well. My 10-year-old even estimated that in 1 year if we collected 36 bags of ‘food scraps’ we probably could have fed 72 people.
~In reality with all the ‘busy’ of families it is extremely hard to not waste food. There will always be forgotten leftovers stuffed deep into the back of the fridge that turn into that newly invented science project, or the accidental spill of food onto the floor by the very curious 2-year old. My experimental challenge was to bring about an ‘AWARENESS’ to my kids that only happens when they use their senses in the present moment. They will not forget the pungent smell of rotting food or the sight of how much truly could have been consumed at one time.
~As a family living in the United States we are so very BLESSED by having our food waiting for us to purchase at the grocery store, farmers market, co-ops, or local garden. All the intensive labor that goes into cultivating our produce, raising livestock and producing an acceptable harvest to be sold to the consumer, I want their efforts to NOT be in vain! With a new-found awareness of our ‘food waste’ habits, which has now taken on a whole new meaning, I am thankful for creative teachable moments.
Take the ‘food waste challenge’ and become aware of the waste your family generates, you might be just as surprised as I was…..
Love & Food are meant for Sharing, not for wasting!