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Friday, March 25, 2011

To have, or not to have, a cooking blog? Or, some thoughts on the environment.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Michele, you just started this blog, and you have only made one post so far. How can you think about creating a new one?! However, I was talking with a coworker and we mutually decided that I was the Queen of Leftovers. Not a terribly glamorous title, but it fits me quite nicely. We talked about how I could wear my tiara and film little videos of me fixing up awesome meals using my leftovers.
You see, what happened was, a few days ago, Michelle (note the double l) gave me her leftover Chinese takeout, which consisted of some fried rice, shrimp, and veggies. She always gives me her leftovers because, while she won't ever eat them, she knows I will. So, I ate the fried shrimp and vegetables, and later, I took some raw cauliflower and sauteed it with a little minced garlic, then steamed it until it was cooked. I then added the pork fried rice with more water, added some hot sauce, covered my pan back up, and let the steam rejuvenate the rice. It worked beautifully. I scarfed that stuff down like it was my last meal. In retrospect, I overdid the hot sauce, but I am pleased with the results. My meal was much better than just popping the rice in the microwave.
Now, this may make me a conceited person, but I think some people could really benefit from some advice on stretching their leftovers inexpensively. Not only is it better for the food budget, food waste has a remarkable effect on the environment. Allow me to briefly explain...
For the most part, food is shipped long distances as it makes its way from the farm to your plate. For example, let's think about the aforementioned pork fried rice. Before Michelle picked it up at the Chinese restaurant, the vegetables, rice, pork, eggs, soy sauce, etc, all had to be delivered to the restaurant, either from the factory or, even worse, some sort of warehouse where the item is stored between factory and restaurant. The factory also took shipment of these goods, as well as their packaging (bottles, bags, etc) from their source. In the case of the pork, food also had to be shipped in for the pigs to eat. Not counting the energy consumption of the factories themselves, that is a lot of driving around in a truck or boat, possibly tens of thousands of miles. If we all wasted less food, less of these trips could be made, conserving energy and protecting the environment from CO emissions and landfill usage.
And did I mention that it is good for your pocketbook? According to a 2007 study sponsored by the UN, Americans throw away nearly 26 million tons of food each year. How much do you suppose that much food is costing us? The cost just to dispose of that extra waste is estimated by the same study to cost about 1 billion dollars each year. Our nation could do a whole lot of stimulating of the economy with a billion extra dollars.
Hopefully, my leftover crusade will inspire some interest in cutting down on food waste. I will be sure and post a link when my new blog is up and running.

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