Happy Earth Day! We have only one planet but 7 billions people who can protect it!
Spring is a perfect time to start preparing for our summery gardens, either in the ground or in containers on our porches.
If you've ever gardened before, you know that mis-formed fruits and vegetables are just part of the process. Check out this pile of potatoes from my garden last year.
Here is one of my absolute favorites .... I had an awesome crop of purple potatoes and one of them came out of the ground like THIS....
I am not joking here... the "hunchback monk purple spud". I loved him dearly and kept him on my window sill for weeks before he met his demise and was roasted to perfection.
While this was a "fun" veggie mis-hap, this happens in our commercial food system all the time. It's just part of growing stuff. Unfortunately, our grocery stores have come to realize that "ugly" fruits and vegetables that don't look perfect don't sell, and so much of these mis-formed produce goes to waste, rotting in piles at our farms.
The Book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken (highly recommended!) analyzed 100 of the top solutions to global warming and quantified them based on their impact (amount of CO2 reduced) and costs. Here is the list of solutions in order of impact ... Check out how many of the top 20 solutions involve our food system!
The #3 item on the list ... more impactful than solar panels, electric vehicles, and hydro-power is...REDUCING FOOD WASTE! Just let that soak in for a minute.... this group of scientists determined that reducing food waste was the THIRD most impactful step we can take to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases!
The DRAWDOWN book states: "A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions."
The great part is that this solution costs nothing - we simply need to be more conscientious about the amount of food than gets tossed. In the US, this happens mainly before the food ever reaches our grocery store. All the more reason to shop local - farmers markets have lots of great, creatively shaped produce :) for us to purchase so that this doesn't go to waste. Also make sure our grocery store produce managers know our fruits and vegetables do not have to LOOK perfect to TASTE perfect!
Some of this waste also happens in our households. Making smaller grocery visits more frequently helps us better match our food purchases to our meal needs. Leftovers are fantastic - even the smallest amount remaining after a meal can be packed up for a quick lunch later in the week! Wide mouth mason jars are perfect for storing, transporting and heating those gems for round two.
So - go hug a "ugly" piece of produce and become part of the climate solution!