Food

Earthy Eats

Waste not, want not

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Americans are a wasteful bunch. Even rabid recyclers come up short in certain areas. Some ignore their leftover Trader Joe’s pork dumplings hanging out in the back of the fridge until they’re too far gone to save—thus adding to the 42 million tons of food that gets thrown away in the United States each year—and others occasionally order takeout that comes in styrofoam containers despite being fully aware that the non-biodegradable pollutant takes as many as 500 years to decompose.

Both of these atrocities were committed by me in the past week, and with Earth Day on the horizon it seems like a fine time to take a closer look at what I—and you—can do to minimize the impact on our ever-more-fragile planet.

I’ll tackle the second problem first. Per usual, Sustainable Connections looked at a problem made worse by the pandemic, and figured out a solution that would benefit both eco-conscious community members hoping to support local restaurants without adding to the waste stream, as well as eateries hoping to serve their patrons in a sustainable manner.

In March, they kicked off a “Where to Go With To-Go” program designed to help Whatcom County restaurant provide alternatives to plastic utensils, individually packed condiments, the aforementioned horror that is styrofoam, and other single-use items commonly included with to-go orders.

In addition to helping the restaurants determine the correct materials they’d need to do so, they shared the list of more than 30 restaurants who’d signed on—including ANMLY Cafe, Antler Baking Co., Aslan Brewing, Brandywine Kitchen, Boundary Bay Brewery, Camber Coffee, Casa Que Pasa, Chuckanut
Brewery, Cosmos Bistro, Crave Catering, Elizabeth Station, Evolve Chocolate + Cafe, Fiamma Burger, Greene’s Corner, Guud Bowls, Homeskillet, JUXT Taphouse, Kebab Casual, Keenan’s at the Pier, Magdalena’s Bistro, Monolo Eats, New Mexico Tamale Company, Old World Deli, Pepper Sisters, Pizza’zza, Pure Bliss Desserts, Sage Against the Machine, Saltine, Simmering Tava, Snowy River Cocktail Co., Storia Cucina, and the new Waffles in Paradise.

When you take their consciously packaged meals home, there’s still a chance the leftovers may end up being incorporated into the waste stream anyway. To avoid this happening, store them in the front of the fridge, where they’re more likely to be seen before starting the decomposition process.

Other tips for keeping food out of the landfill include cooking and eating what you already have at home before buying more; using less-than-pristine produce for meals such as soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces and baked goods; utilizing the edible part of food you normally wouldn’t eat (such as stale bread for croutons or veggie scraps for stock); learning the difference between “sell by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates; and planning an “eat the leftovers” night each week. By the time Earth Day rolls around, your prior transgressions will have been forgiven.

To find out more about the Where to Go With To-Go program, go to http://www.sustainableconnections.org/programs.

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