I am a Closet Food Waster

There must be 12-step program for that.

Have you done even a rough calculation of the total value of produce that goes unused… literally degrades before your eyes… in the frig?  Carol Blymire let her produce cat out of the bag in a recent article in the Washington Post.  She admits to wasting $1200 worth annually.  She’s not alone.

Among the easiest types of produce to waste are green leafies: kale, chard, mustard greens, Romaine, head and Bibb lettuces, arugula and other delicate greens.

Most interestingly, the author gave herself a refresher on water… that’s the percentage water content in vegetables: “Most fresh vegetables in the typical American diet are more than 90 percent water by weight, according to Nathan Myhrvold and the team that wrote the epic food science and technology tome “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” (The Cooking Lab, 2011).”

“For example, they found that a carrot is roughly 88 percent water, nearly the same proportion found in milk. A fresh cucumber contains a higher proportion of water than some mineral-rich spring waters. Swiss chard is 94 percent water.”  Carol has a video progression of how placing wilted refrigerated greens in water actually rejuvenates them.  Pretty cool.

“In “Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes” (Hodder and Stoughton, 2010), food science expert Harold McGee writes that fresh vegetables and herbs gradually deteriorate as they use up their limited water reserves after harvesting.”

So, while there appears to be a difference of opinion about water temperature and whether additives are beneficial, what’s common is the concensus that the restoration of water is the solution to decaying vegetables. There are also other criteria that can factor in: refrigerator temperature, the use of plastic bags, humidity, proximity to the freezer, how to prep veggies for storage in the frig, etc.  It’s an interesting conversation, and the full article is worth a read if you’d like really constructive suggestions about how to reduce waste.

The option of last resort when rehydration is no longer possible, says Carol, is composting, but the simple steps she outlines are worth implementing so we don’t have to take that final, fatal step.

My name is Linda.  I am a closet food waster.

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