In the US we had our Thanksgiving Day holiday yesterday. This for most of us means making lists of things to be thankful for, a gathering of family and/or friends, and big meals.
It's that last part that got me thinking. With so many millions in this country not getting enough to eat, and with food waste such a significant problem, was there something I could do to help?
Sure, my wife and I do some things. We try to never waste food. We regularly donate to food drives. We even make financial contributions to area food banks when we can.
But as I did some last-minute food shopping before the holiday, I realized that I could actually make a small difference in the amount of food wasted by grocery stores. As I was searching for "the right" apples to put into my basket, I had the sudden realization that every apple that I passed on -- because it had a tiny nick in the skin, or had some blemish, or was slightly bruised -- every one of them would probably be passed over by other shoppers, and would eventually end up in the dumpster behind the store.
So I changed search parameters.
I instead started looking not for the perfect apples, but for the worst. (The worst are actually quite nice. If they were growing in my garden I'd think they were fantastic!)
So I'm going to be using that philosophy whenever I shop. Slightly crushed bread? Into the cart it goes. Outer box cut? No reason to pass it over. Dented plastic bottle? Mine!
I know it's not much, but it's got to help, right? (Especially if you do this too!)
So I'm thankful for choice, but also thinking about those choices in a new way.
There are two "incidents" that stand out in my mind that helped me come to this realization I think. One was from a TED talk on food waste if I remember correctly in which the presenter asked for a show of hands of those who use the end slices of bread -- most hands went up. Then they asked how many people have ever seen a sandwich at a restaurant that contained an end slice (no hands) before showing a photo of a dumpster full of bread ends. The second was an interview with a farmer's market stand owner who said that the last piece of any produce will sit on the shelf or table alone for hours before somebody buys it -- maybe. Everybody passes it by thinking that something is wrong with it when it just had the misfortune of being the last one. Hmmm.