Don’t Throw that Dollar Bill into the Garbage (Food Waste)

The average family of four could save over $1,600 a year by sending less food into the garbage. That’s $30.77 an average family throws out¬†per week, or $4.40 per day.

What gets measured gets managed. This is my attempt to quantify what this looks like in real live physical dollar bills in our everyday lives. Fair warning: Economist talk assumptions await you if you read further ūüôā

The most common ways food is throw out at home are:

  • Leftovers from home-cooked meals
  • Leftovers from take-out or restaurant
  • “Expired” or “best used by date” confusion.¬†Some of the¬†time these foods are perfectly edible, so disposing of them is not a necessity.
  • Spoiled food from misestimating quantities needed or poor storage

After thinking about this and running some numbers on the cost of $4.40 per day wasted on food disposal per average family, I came to this conclusion:

Each time you or anyone in your household throws food away you can image one dollar bill going into the garbage.

How did I come up with that?

Rationale #1: Food varies in price, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s look at an apple. It’s reasonable to think of an apple as something most Americans eat at least occasionally. An apple is about a dollar apiece and that would be good sized handful of food. Some food would be less expensive (i.e. bulk lentils) and some more expensive (i.e. gourmet restaurant leftovers), but on average a dollar per handful makes sense.

Rationale #2:¬†When you throw out food at home it’s about a good-sized handful in size, in general, on average. Scooping uneaten food from your plate, grabbing spoiled food from the fridge, or tossing leftovers is usually about a handful or so¬†of food on average.

So that would mean¬†on average our family of four (let’s call them the Smiths) will throw food away about 30 times week. This seems reasonable considering the following scenario and assumptions:

  • The Smiths will eat 84 meals (cooked at home, takeout, dine-in restaurant combined) in total (7 days x 3 meals per day x 4 people) for the week. For 21 of the meals there was food throw out, which means 21 handfuls of food wasted.
  • The Smiths¬†throw out a nine handfuls of “expired” or spoiled food from the refrigerator or pantry during the week.

For each handful of wasted food, that’s a dollar bill that could otherwise be spent on other things. I’m sure the Smiths would love an extra $30/week to save or spend on other necessities or fun things.¬†Even if you aren’t part of a family of four you can see the dollar bill going into the garbage principle still works: each handful of food is worth about a dollar and each time we throw away food it’s about a handful’s worth of food.

So what should we do? Check out FoodShift, which is a great resource for how we can reduce our food waste. They have some simple and effective ways for food storage, creative ways to use leftovers, understanding food dates, sharing food, composting, and tracking your progress.

Of course there will be times when some food, peels, etc. need to be disposed of and composting is the way to go for sure. Limiting the amount of waste that goes into the landfill is key and helps limit our carbon footprint.

Agree? Disagree? Please comment, share, etc. Thanks for reading.

What is a Sustainavore?

I was recently asked to define my definition of “Sustainavore” by Today’s Green Minute.

My overall “fork philosophy” is nourishing¬†myself while contributing to the livelihood of other people, the planet, the community and local economy.¬†Also, limiting any negative effects that may be the result of my food choices. Thinking of the whole cycle when making my food choices is important. Just as important is being grateful for the food and all the work and sacrifice that went into it. It is often difficult to stick with one strict philosophy all the time depending on location, season, what is available when and where.

Before we get into the details, being open to other food philosophies is essential. Not discounting or dismissing others’ food philosophies helps us understand what motivates people to eat the way they do. We can also get ideas to integrate into our own food choices by exploring other food philosophies.

Below are some basic guidelines I currently live by:

Meat (I believe in being selective about the meat I buy and eat):

  • Local Grass-fed and grass-finished red meat (super important to make sure it’s grass-finished. grass-fed and finished is healthier than grain-fed and better for the animals and the planet)
  • Buying from ranchers who use sustainable grazing practices (holistic management)
  • Local organic-fed ¬†(or similar, non-GMO) chicken and eggs (dark golden yolks get me excited)
  • Eating nose-to-tail (not wasting any part of the animal) including organ meat and not so popular cuts (inexpensive and healthier than eating only muscle meat)
  • A little bit of fish, following the Monterey Bay Aquarium guidelines (my favorite is a local family that salmon fishes in Alaska in the summer and sells it locally in Boise)
  • Animal welfare and humane treatment of the animals
  • Wild game

Vegetables, Fruit and Grains:

  • Local organic (or similar) vegetables and fruit
  • Local when available

Buying Local:

  • Supporting the local economy, keeping money in the community/region
  • Supporting my local farmers, ranchers, food artisans, farmers markets and grocery stores that carry local items
  • Knowing who grows my food and how they grow it

Non-local specialty and out-of-season items (as with my other food choices, I am selective when it comes to something non-local):

  • Sometimes you just need something out of season or something that just isn’t grown in your area
  • Organic or similar, fair-trade, sustainable
  • Examples are cacao, chocolate, tea, berries out of season, coconut oil, some spices, quinoa

Reducing waste and composting (in the U.S. about 40% of our edible food goes to waste. according to the charity Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year):

  • Wasting as little food as possible (eating leftovers, not buying too much perishable food at once, sharing, being creative with food that could easily be tossed, making broth from bones)
  • Composting any food waste I possibly can

Limit processed foods (very small amount of my diet is reserved for processed foods):

  • Foods with the least amount of processing and the most natural
  • Frozen organic pizza, sprouted bread, coconut ice cream are a couple of examples

As Michael Pollan says in Food Rules, break the rules once in a while. I’m sure I’ll adjust my philosophy as our food system changes, evolves and improves. Please share your food philosophy!

Eat Ugly Carrots (a veggie short)

How do we feed the world? Preventing food waste is part of the solution. In the U.S. about 40% of our edible food goes to waste. According to the charity Feeding America,¬†more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year. Eat Ugly Carrots looks at a common vegetable and provides a solution-based story about how and why we should eat those ugly carrots that might otherwise be thrown away.¬†Eat Ugly Carrots was a collaboration between my brother-in-law, Mike Biagiotti, and me. Check out Mike’s other work at veryboringplace.com

Poetry: Death’s Life

Death’s Life:

Death to old patterns, not serving me and us
The soul is witnessing death, birth and life
Death to old ways, of thinking, ways that are not the way
Death to thinking for only a moment, is life

Death of old self at every moment
Birth of possibilities
Death of the stagnant blue flame

Rejuvenation, relief
Breathe out death, breathe in life
Belly and lungs are a universe

Growing out of what what I once was
Beautiful egg slime from the cracked shell of the self
Becoming again what I am

Death of the body
Carcass is beauty
Sacred bones, skin, muscle, tendons, organs, yummy fat of a White-Tailed Deer
brings the universe more life
Decay, bringing life and lively love
Death is reborn again

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Seventh Generation Food and Agriculture Connection

Many of us have heard of the term “seventh generation.” The words come from the Constitution of the Iroquois Nation.

A common, summarized and short version of “seventh generation” derived from the Constitution of the Iroquois Nation that most of us have heard of is “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.”

The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation (The Great Binding Law) explains “seventh generation” philosophy as follows:

“The thickness of your skin shall be seven spans — which is to say that you shall be proof against anger, offensive actions and criticism.¬†¬† Your heart shall be filled with peace and good will and your mind filled with a yearning for the welfare of the people of the Confederacy.¬† With endless patience you shall carry out your duty and your firmness shall be tempered with tenderness for your people.¬† Neither anger nor fury shall find lodgement in your mind and all your words and actions shall be marked with calm deliberation.¬† In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion.¬† Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right.¬† Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.” 

This philosophy is not unique to just the Iroquois nation. Many Native American nations and tribes and other indigenous people around the world have and still do live by this philosophy as well. They may not all explicitly call it “seventh generation” thinking but it is evident through their oral (and now written) histories, actions, and ways of life that they share this important, virtuous and selfless way of life as well.

The clear message of “seventh generation” living is to think seventh generations ahead and act in ways that benefit, not sacrifice, the future generations, specifically the seventh generation after us. People usually associate this with a ecological actions and thinking, but it is more than that. Indeed, ecological acts and ways of life are a big part of seventh generation thinking and indigenous life and livelihood, but that’s not the whole story. Since everything is connected you really can’t separate out the ecological without thinking about how it affects other parts of our interconnected world and lives.

An interesting aspect of seventh generation that I have read about is thinking of your generation as all of the seven generations. You are the first generation acting, making choices and leaving your legacy for the seventh generation in front of you. You are also the seventh generation that benefits (and in some cases suffers) from the actions, sacrifices and generosity of the people that lived seven generations before you. You are also the second, third, fourth and so on.

This is by no means a full summary of seventh generation in its totality. It is rather a starting point to start thinking about how we can use this knowledge and wisdom in today’s world for our benefit when we make decisions about our agriculture, food systems, food choices and actions.

M. Kat Anderson’s book Tending the Wild is a great resource and history of how the Native American’s in California worked with the land in their agricultural and land management practices. Many of these principles are used today and many more could be implemented for our long-term benefit.

Some questions to ponder with seventh generation thinking in mind:

  • What does it mean for the future to support out local farmers and ranchers instead of supporting factory farms and industrialized food operations?
  • How could permaculture and sustainable farming practices we implement today benefit the seventh generation?
  • What affect could¬†GMOs have seven generations from now?
  • What does the affect of chemicals, pesticides, herbicides mean for the future of our soil, land and human health?
  • What is the real “cost” of our food to the seventh generation?
  • How do our current national, state and local policies benefit and/or hinder the seventh generation?
  • What changes in our food choices and agriculture practices could benefit the seventh generation?
  • What kind of legacy do we leave behind? Not only our personal or family legacy, but also the legacy of our generation as a whole.

Please comment. Take care and thanks for reading!

Tasty Poetry: Slow Cookin’

Slow Cookin’:
Multitask, task list, American material, fire putter-outer
sad 2,000 calories, sugar filled food pyramid crumble
Stock ticker on the TV screen, sweaty experts with barking points, coin flips
Monkey mind, rat race, battery cage chicken dinner, hungry blind eyes
Fast food, faster, roadrunner vs a bottle rocket

Cleanse, toxins, liver, restoring the whole
Slow Food, Slow Money
Dinner table, cloth of love crumbs, sun sharing
Slow cooker, soaking beans, garden kale, the new gold

Grassfed Beef Liver recipe of meditation
Wooden Chop Sticks, white rice, three grains of focus
Old ranch photo, solace, ghost wind, cloud of debt

Tulips! How much or how beautiful?
Phytonutrients, omega 3s, webs and cycles
Bless this Dandelion flower in my stomach, golden specs, bits of treasure, free and freedom

Business case against Scotts releasing GM grass seed

If you haven’t heard,¬†Scotts is in the scientific research and development phase¬†of its genetically modified (GM) grass seed (Kentucky bluegrass). They are currently exploring markets. The GM seed is roundup resistant.I hope the Scotts risk assessment, branding, market research teams and lawyers are being brought in on this one, because it really doesn’t make sense in the long run from a business perspective. Short term financial gains might be attractive, but I suggest Scotts consider long term potential impacts, problems, expenditures and damage to their brand.

My intent in this write-up is to provide some business rationale to Scotts for not pursuing the GM grass seed. I have come up with a few examples of potential issues (PR, brand, legal and competitor advantage) that could arise if Scotts decides to bring their GM grass seed to market. One theme you will see is that the GM grass will get into our food system:

  • What if I am a rancher or dairy farmer and this GM grass seed gets into my fields. What do I do? If I claim my beef or dairy is organic, but I know my cattle eat this GM grass that made its way onto my field, then I am not sure if I can still claim organic even though I did not plant it or want it in my fields. What if my competitive advantage is that my beef/dairy is 100% grass fed, all natural, non-GMO, but now that my cattle may have eaten some GM grass seed I cannot claim that and my business may suffer.
  • What if my neighbor or the elementary school next door uses the Scotts GM grass seed and the seed makes its way over to my lawn and vegetable garden? A lot of potential legal issues with this one. And, yes it will move around via wind, water runoff, birds and other animals eating and excreting the seed in other areas. We might see some lawsuits and neighborhood associations banning the use of GM grass seed.
  • “Scotts Superweeds:” As we have seen with other GM crops and roundup, they create superweeds that are resistant to the roundup. These superweeds are inevitable when using roundup, so more herbicides would have to be used on top of roundup. What homeowner, turf manager or groundskeeper wants to deal with superweeds on their lawns?
  • Scotts’ grass seed in general may be known as GM grass seed. Consumers (and competitors) may lump other Scotts’ grass seed into the GM category. Consumers that want to avoid GM seed might just move on to a competitor’s grass seed to avoid the chance of buying GM seed altogether.
  • Competitors will have advantage once they can claim that “Some of Scotts grass seed is GMO, our brand is 100% GMO free”
  • Cross contamination of non-GM seed: Unless the GM seed was produced in a facility all by itself there would be cause for concern that other Scotts grass seeds could be cross contaminated with the GM seed.
  • What if I have a kid that goes to a school that uses the GM grass seed and I do not want my kid playing on it. Do I have to spend my free time lobbying the school to switch to a non-GM grass seed?
With the increase in state ballots regarding GMO labeling and increase of awareness of GMOs it seems like associating your brand with GMOs is a questionable and risky move. It may pay off financially in the short term, but not the long term. Long term implications and include possible negative PR, damage to the Scott brand, hours and hours of legal time and money spent on these potential issues.If Scotts continues to consider the GM grass seed, I would suggest they ask consumers for their input and feedback via an online public comment forum and in-person open houses to avoid backlash. It would be better to get the reaction from consumers now as opposed to releasing into the market and then finding out what the problems are later on when the damage is already done.

Morning Overcast

Overcast sky dancing, alive, energy, particles, sparticles
Tiny Raindrops fall perfectly, bird vocals
Naked tree, alive, confident
Medicine wheel: East, yellow
sound of man-made car rolling by in the distance (maybe a ’98?)
dinosaurs rolled by too
Lone Goose overhead, vocals, confident
Garden, replenished, strong, loved soil, ready to give
Raindrops, gift
Confident goose, flock
Blossoming pink, white, green trees
Blossoming bird songs
Resilient sky, earth, planet, world
By ease and flow, seasons, recovery, replenish, giving, living
Sky Father, Earth Mother, Great Weaver
” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “
More Raindrops, thanks
Hummingbird, honeysuckle will soon blossom
We are rolling by

Nothing is Separate

Blessings
Draw strength, the universe
Suffering is not separate, is connected
Thriving, we all thrive
Strength, healing,
To all
To your soul, universe
Your enemies are you, connected
You are your enemies
Heal
Mitakuye Oyasin “We are all related” (Ehanamani)
Air flows, all
Circulate time, space, squirrels, beings
You, we, creation runs through, connected

Dirty Poetry: Soil

Soil:
Living ecosystem
Providing, harvest
Nutrients
Gratitude, enjoy
Crumble, erode, wash away
Thrive, regenerate, undisturbed
Depleted, regenerate
Roots are home
Eat, plant, harvest, fingernails, thank
Share, give back
Cover crop
Minerals
Seasonal flow, Wild harvest
Step in, dive in, discharge, recharge