Don’t Save the World. Just Save Your Scraps.

Sometimes reading and writing about issues surrounding food, hunger, and justice is just plain depressing. Like most people, I want to contribute to the flourishing of the earth and all people on it; I see that as God’s call on all of us, though it takes different forms for all of us as we pursue our various vocations.

For all of us, it’s easy to feel powerless–like there’s nothing we can really do to make the world better. In fact, we’re probably doing more to make it worse.

Wendell Berry writes in his essay, “Think Little”:

“Every time we draw a breath, every time we drink a glass of water, every time we eat a bite of food […] we are causing the crisis. Nearly every one of us, nearly every day of his life, is contributing directly to the ruin of this planet. A protest meeting on the issue of environmental abuse is not a convocation of accusers, it is a convocation of the guilty.”

So be humble, says the venerable Mr. Berry. And while there’s nothing wrong with large-scale action, Berry urges us to “think little”:

gorgeous rich compost! turn scraps into gardener's gold!

“I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening…[a person] growing a garden…is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”

But of course, gardening requires knowhow, time, land, and other resources.

How ’bout this, though? Just try to waste less food.

North Americans throw away TWENTY TWO TIMES the amount of food Sub-Saharan Africans do each year-240 pounds/person/year versus(gulp) 11 pounds/person/year.

Don’t try to save the world. Just save your scraps! Make veggie stocks with cores, tops & peels before composting them, freeze leftovers, don’t overbuy…etc.

{See these resources for more how-to. And read about my favorite thrifty cookbooks here and here.}

20 tips on wasting less food here; 10 more tips here!

learn how to compost–because then it’s not waste; it’s recycling.

New York Times: “A War Against Food Waste”

3 thoughts on “Don’t Save the World. Just Save Your Scraps.

  1. Great post about a small way we could make a giant difference – I have read that average households in Canada waste about 14% of all the food they bring into their homes! Surely that is an easy place to start. Eat your scraps – agreed!

  2. I like watching the competition shows on the Food Network, but am often struck by the waste (my daughter says she heard much of what we see ends up donated somewhere). Did you see “The Big Waste”, though? In that show last month the Food Network called itself out with a special competition featuring only food destined for the trash, and it was both entertaining and enlightening for me and my wife. Here’s an article from Waste & Recycling News that describes the show:

    Also, I’m wondering about the opening of the Berry quote: “Every time we draw a breath, every time we drink a glass of water, every time we eat a bite of food […] we are causing the crisis.” Now I’m all for hyperbole, but to say that breathing makes you guilty of environmental degridation is tantamount to telling us that our very existence is killing the planet. That can be said for anything and the effects from using them, e.g., whenever I drive my car I’m sending it that much closer to the junkyard, having babies means the mother’s body is bearing a burden that wears down her body to a degree greater than if she were childless, going to work means I’m preventing someone else who may want my job from having it for themselves. I think Berry’s overstatement harms his cause mroe than helps it, because it so quickly becomes ridiculous in application.

    Your sugestions, though, are much better. Plus – bonus for me! – I love eating scraps and leftovers.


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