Simple Thrift – Nashua Telegraph – May 12

Published: Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Simple Thrift
By: Wendy Thomas

After one week of keeping track of it, I found that we threw out 2.9 pounds of edible food. The national average for a family our size is 244 pounds per year, or 20.3 pounds per month.

With three weeks to go in the month, we are well below the national average, but I am still disappointed that we are even getting on the scale. I had hoped that with enough diligence, we would have a close to zero edible food output.

But then, things happen, such as someone dropping pretzels on the floor and then accidentally stepping on them. Or someone put the Fluff container on its side, and that white stuff oozed out all over the place.

On the night we threw away 8.5 ounces of food, I blamed the rye bread. When my son Griffin picked out the large loaves for us to make shaved steak and cheese subs, I should have paid more attention. Rye is a strong taste for younger palates, and if you have any kind of imagination – which, let’s face it, my kids do – after a while, the rye seeds start to look like dried ants cooked into the bread. Enough said. Next time, we get milder bread.

There were two days in which we had no food to weigh. One night was when turkey pot pie was served. The other night was when I was up in Concord at a meeting, my husband was covering gymnastics detail and then one of the kids broke out in a rash, causing a minor medical crisis. We didn’t get around to making dinner until 8 p.m. and the fastest thing we could come up with was mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs.

The kids ate every single macaroni bit, proving that the appetite is great when the belly is hungry.

More composting info

Last week, I talked about composting with our new composter we purchased from Beaver Brook Association. A few people contacted me and wanted to know where to buy the composter. Beaver Brook no longer has them, but major stores that have home and outdoor departments carry them.

Rosemarie Rung, of Merrimack, sent me the following information on making your own composter.

“If you want to be really green, get four pallets that are going to be tossed anyway, nail them together with one side hinged, and use that for a composter. Every two to three weeks, take a pitchfork or shovel and turn it. Making three of those in various stages of decomposition guarantees a constant supply of compost, and no plastic was used!”

I then asked her if animals got into her composter. She replied, “I’ve never had a problem with animals, even with open compost piles. Maybe because there is no meat or dairy in there, and I also throw in leaves and grass clippings once in a while. When we had a dog, she would sniff around, but she didn’t pull anything from there. Deer stay away, too.”

Lynn Quinlan, of Hollis, who is an avid composter, wrote with the following tips for generating less food waste:

• By washing food well instead of peeling, you get the added fiber and vitamins. You also generate less waste, although composted food can’t be considered waste.

• By buying fresh unpackaged fruit and veggies, you’re sure that there aren’t two rotten pieces for every five. You use it before it goes bad. (So that even if you run out, it’s better than having things go rotten and become a total waste.)

• Check out Web sites for information on the best ways to store food. I always thought my freezer should be packed to save on electricity, etc. But this way, I almost never remembered what was in there. The refrigerator didn’t run well, either. After I emptied the freezer and restocked it from scratch – leaving room for air to circulate and the fans to do their job – everything ran better. I’m sure the electricity bill will reflect this.

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1 Comment

Filed under Simple Thrift Nashua Telegraph column, Simple Thrift Tips

One response to “Simple Thrift – Nashua Telegraph – May 12

  1. Great post! I also agree that composted food should not be considered wasted.

    All of my food waste and my yard waste goes either to our pigs or our chickens or into the compost heap. With 5 kids under age 8 you can imagine how much food gets tosssed due to ‘accident’ (rolls eyes).

    BUT it goes to make fresh pork, eggs, chicken, and veg, so I don’t worry about it too much. 😀

    My current compost heaps are just cinderblocks stacked 2 high in a 3 sided square. I plan to ‘upgrade’ to the pallet design mentioned just to save space (an open compost heap sort of sprawls). Never had a problem with animals, either.

    Happy composting!

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