Squashing food waste
What: Squatch Holiday Food Waste
When: 3 pm Tue., Dec. 4
Where: Sustainable Connections, 1701 Ellis St.
Cost: Free; register in advance
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Thanksgiving leftovers are my favorite part of the November feast, but a few days after this year’s holiday I admitted to myself that perhaps I should’ve given away more of everything for my guests to take home with them, as there was still a turkey carcass to deal with and mounds of mashed potatoes and stuffing I was no longer consumed with consuming.
On Sunday morning, I remembered Mountaineers Books had recently sent me a copy of food-focused journalist Jill Lightner’s Scraps, Peels, and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home. I wasn’t able to make it to her talk at Village Books in late October, but I was eager to hear what she had to say about avoiding food waste during the time of the year people are most likely to do so.
“Holidays in general, and Thanksgiving in particular, add up to a hideous amount of wasted food,” she wrote. “According to the NRDC, about 200 million pounds of turkey meat are thrown out following Thanksgiving each year. And, according to research from Nielsen, we purchase vegetables for the feast in shocking volume as well, almost 3 million pounds of collards, 2 million of kale, and 1.2 million pounds of Brussels sprouts. If Thanksgiving food-waste numbers match annual averages, 40 percent of those purchases will get tossed.”
Common-sense solutions she offered to avoid the needless trashing of foodstuffs included rethinking suggested serving portions, asking guests to bring their own containers for leftovers to ensure they’ll be going home with a tasty treat, substituting pies with plates of cookies, and scrapping dishes that aren’t typically as popular as others.
Determined not to be just another statistic, I spent the rest of the day following her recipes for Thanksgiving turkey stock, as well as turkey fat roux. It took awhile, but by the end of the day, the carcass was gone and the freezer was stocked with savory food staples that can be used to enhance other meals throughout the winter.
With holiday parties galore and Christmas dinner on the near horizon, those who bemoaned wasting too much of their Thanksgiving spread can find out even more ways to avoid the same mistakes Tues., Dec. 4 when Sustainable Connections hosts a “Squatch Holiday Food Waste” event.
As part of the Squatch Food Waste Campaign started last spring to help both individuals and businesses “squatch” their food waste and “rescue” 30,000 pounds of prepared foods in order to reroute it to Whatcom families in need, those attending the gathering will find out how to be a food waste warrior by minimizing leftovers, discovering recipes that use common holiday leftovers, and learning more about the trajectory of the campaign—and what it means for the future of food waste in Whatcom County.
In addition to discovering details about how the project has seen businesses such as Mt. Baker Care Center, Boundary Bay Brewery, the Community Food Co-op, Papa John’s Pizza, and more provide prepared food surplus for the program, interested parties can also submit a Squatch Food Waste pledge in order to discover a variety of tools, tips and resources to make reducing food waste as easy as possible.
I plan on hopping on the food waste bandwagon by signing the pledge, too—just as soon as I finish the last piece of pumpkin bread pudding that’s still on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
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