Thursday, August 30, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

You may have seen recent coverage of a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which estimates that 40% of food is wasted in the US.  The report cites numerous reasons for this, from the cheapness of food to the food waste from oversized portions served in restaurants.  Whatever the reasons, its a true shame that we waste so much food when more than 46 million Americans rely on Food Stamps to survive. Here are a few more numbers to slap you sober on this subject.



What, you're asking yourself, can I do about this and what on earth does it have to do with yoga?  Glad you asked.  With respect to the what you can do question, its pretty simple.  Buy only what you need and use what you buy.  Eschew the bargain bulk buys at Crap-Mart and consider sharing that jumbo-sized entree at Orangeabees or Fennys.  Cook at home and make just enough for one meal or EAT YOUR LEFTOVERS.  For more ideas and inspiration, check out Wasted Food author Jonathan Bloom's blog where he posts a variety of sources where you can get more ideas about how not to waste food and what to do with the food you cannot use.
As for what it has to do with yoga, follow my thinking:  Yoga is all about balance - with your mind, body and your surroundings.  Its about being present and in harmony with others.  If you experience this with yoga (or whatever you do that brings you balance), you should not be comfortable with throwing away something that took valuable resources to create, grow and produce. Something that could be of tremendous value to someone who really needs it.  Something that, when wasted, harms the environment. 

Sorry for the soapbox but this is a subject close to my heart.  As I've mentioned, we are a family of cooks and we grow much of our own food.  And yes, I live in Michael Pollan-ville where food is both political and religious.  But I'm not coming from that place but rather from the perspective of my grandparents, who came from humble beginnings, never had a lot of money and valued what they had.  The kind of people who saved aluminum foil to reuse, saved little bits of soap to melt into a new bar, and kept a jar with "grease" that they used to fry their morning eggs (the BEST eggs ever, BTW).  Because food is cheap and plentiful, we don't value it - we waste it. I see it every day at my daughter's school where half-eaten sandwiches and fruit are swept into the garbage; I saw it at the tech companies I used to work for where untouched box lunches were tossed and catered meal leftovers tossed. And I see it almost every time I eat out when half-eaten plates of food are handed back to the server for disposal.

But we can make a difference.  We can get off the mat and find ways to waste less food in our own homes.  Look for creative ideas to use the food you can no longer eat (composting anyone?) Help your local school or place of work find ways to use or donate food not used.  Order less food when you go out and take home what you don't eat.  Consider "swapping" the food you grow and cannot use. Found Fruit is a great resource for this if you live in the Bay Area but you may be able to swap for what you need with farmers at your local Farmer's Market or even your neighborhood grocery store.  

Very often I read about problems in my community and I feel helpless to make a difference.  Here's one I really think I (and you) can do something about.

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