You’re Doing it All Wrong (3/31/13)

My wife and I revisited the local pub that I referenced in an earlier blog. And, once again, we split the buffalo chicken wrap. I was all set to enjoy an evening of good food, good beer, and great company. I even expected that I would end the evening feeling good about my food waste efforts, because this was supposed to be an identical experience to the last time we split a meal here. 

We sat down and ordered our drinks… two waters and two Round Guys Slackers, which is an American brown ale. We were torn between the ham and cheese sandwich on a pretzel bun with honey mustard glaze (Yum!) and the buffalo chicken wrap serve with blue cheese dressing on the side (also Yum!). Rock, paper, scissors… no seriously, that’s how we decided. I represented the buffalo chicken and she was the ham and cheese sandwich. Best two out of three. You already know that I won and we ordered the buffalo chicken, but what you don’t know is that it was an intense come-from-behind victory. My wife won the first round (scissors cuts paper), then we had a draw (two rocks), then I won (scissors cuts paper), and in round three the meal was decided with another victory by me (scissors cuts paper again).
Everything was going as planned. Even the decision making process was fun! Then, of course, the food came out. The wrap was split as usual, so no complaints there. However, I noticed that this time we both received a full portion of fries. Why? We didn’t request extra fries… and we weren’t charged for them either. My guess is that the restaurant, being only 4 blocks from our home, has begun to recognize us as “locals” since we visit here once or twice a month. Maybe this is how they were “taking extra care” of us. I want to write them a letter, and it would look something like this:

Dear (insert pub name here),

Thank you for your great food and excellent service. On our last visit, we noticed that you provided us with extra fries when we split a meal. Thank you for your extra effort to enrich our experience, but if your goal is to keep us happy and coming back… YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG! There is no need to provide us with “extra” anything, particularly empty calories. If you want to “take care” of us, take a buck off of our tab or throw in a side salad.

We enjoy being patrons of socially responsible organizations, and I do not intend to stop visiting you because of some extra fries on my plate. However, I hope that you realize the larger scale implications of what you do and make efforts to change your ways. Think about this:
A typical restaurant meal has at least 60 % more calories than the average home-cooked meal. (Bloom 2010) Diners leave an average of 17 % of their meals uneaten. (Bloom 2010)
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please this website for more information. https://pennfoodwasterevolution.wordpress.com/stats/

Regards,
Sam

(Sam Godfrey)

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Miraculous Green Onions (3/30/13)

Every now and then (more like every week) I get both leeks and green onions in my farm share box. Green onions are super yummy and delicious, but I find that there is only so much I can do with them and I eventually end up making the same things over and over again – and I am human, so I got bored. 

So I decided to consult Dr. Google to see if anyone else had the same issues or had extra green onions and what they do with them. I discovered a lot, but to my surprise, the most amazing thing I learned is that you can simply put your green onions in a glass of cold water and they will stay fresh and beautiful for as long as you want (as long as they have roots, they will continue to grow).

Green Onions
Green Onions

Here is what I am trying to say: place your beautiful green onions in a large beer glass (yes, beer glass! it looks great) with water to cover the roots. Then whenever you want to use them just cut the amount you need off with scissors. In the photo there are two bunches. In the one on the right you can see where I snipped it because one branch didn’t grow. From last week until today, that is how much they have grown!!! The bunch to the left is the one I just got today and I snipped them so they can grow as well.  (I’ll be making beef broth with them, so look for that in my next post!)

It is quite amazing to see nature working its magic right in my house.  (Sarah Muller)

Bagel Chips (3/29/13)

Bagels
Bagels
Bagel Chips
Bagel Chips

We had a lot of leftover bagels at home that were getting stale. I wanted to use them and decided to make bagel chips with them. I sliced them up put them on a baking sheet, sprinkled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasoning and baked them in the oven for about 10 minutes. They smelled so good and looked exactly like the ones you can buy in a grocery store for $3.99 per bag. You can make them and store them like regular chips. It’s a great snack and goes nicely with hummus, dips, and can be used in salads as croutons. Save your stale bagels and bread. (Roxy Rusek)

Spring Cleaning and the Art of Freezing (3/28/13)

There seems be a simple solution to reduce food waste – the freezer. As Spring approaches (or so I thought, although we had snow recently!), I felt obliged to conduct the annual Spring cleaning rituals. Spring cleaning for me, always consists of the traditional dusting, vacuuming, cleaning out the closet etc. This year I decided to add another task, cleaning out the freezer.

Zucchini Bread
Zucchini Bread

I am very lucky to have a mother with a green thumb. Each fall she showers me with homemade gravy (tomato sauce to most), zucchini breads and more. Thankfully she recently did a little spring cleaning of her own and supplied me with a few frozen goodies. Not only do I have enough for at least two homemade (defrosted) meals coming up, I also was able to clean out or re-organize my freezer to create more space for other items I knew were on the brinks of turning bad or going stale, to freeze for myself. Frozen bananas, bagels and breads are something I find easy to store and taste just as good post-thaw. Frozen bananas go great in a smoothie, or even a yummy banana peanut butter ice cream. When defrosted and slightly toasted, bagels and breads are good as new.

Frozen Ziti
Frozen Ziti

So, it might be a quick fix for consumers, but one that we can all benefit from. Next time that brown banana starts to make its way to the trash can, try putting it in a zip lock bag in the freezer instead. If you have trouble cooking meals due to lack of time, try batch cooking on a free night or weekend, this way you can freeze meals to enjoy later in the week! (Liz Manotti)

One of Those Questions (3/27/13)

Not sure how to describe this?
Not sure how to describe this?

My eldest son asked me “why are all these apples lying on the ground?” while enjoying a family day out at an orchard farm. I was speechless for a few moments trying to think about an answer that would make sense to him and the rest of the world.

Every day we drive through neighborhoods where families are suffering from hunger and, I am confident, parents don’t find an easy answer when a child cries, “there is plenty of food out there, why don’t we have some?”

Hunger is a pressing global challenge and it seems like we are not optimizing our resources. For example, we only consume 60% of the food we produce, and 40% is wasted. Many resources are also wasted along the journey. Our behavior towards food isn’t sustainable and we are simply not considering or assessing the consequences of the decisions that we make today on the well-being of our children and grandchildren let alone the hungry people around every corner.

Being in an orchard is a pleasant experience, but I am not sure if I am teaching my children the right thing. It would a different experience if I could walk them through an orchard that embraces sustainable practices. For example, I would feel better if they were using the “ugly fruit” to make juice, donating excess produce…etc.

It is only a matter of time before we’re forced to seriously consider our attitude towards food.  We need proactive change that will help prevent undesirable natural and health consequences that will directly impact the quality of life of our future generations.  (Amr Buckly)

No Food Left Behind! (3/26/13)

An interesting fact learned in my Organizational Dynamics class focusing on Food Recovery is that “food thrown out in the US – by households, supermarkets, restaurants, and convenience stores – would have been enough to satisfy every single one of the world’s malnourished people two times over.” (Stuart 2009) Although this statistic did not mention food thrown away from departmental functions across organizations, I can imagine this would factor in greatly to the amount of food wasted on a daily basis. Within my department alone, although we tend to be very conscientious of the amount of food we order per attendee, sometimes leftovers are inevitable. Because of my increased awareness of the amount of food that is wasted per year, I have focused my efforts on changing my daily lifestyle and what I can do to help make a difference, beginning with myself.

Leftover Primo Hoagies
Leftover Primo’s Hoagies

 

As you can see from the pictures, these were leftover Primo’s Hoagies that I brought home that went unconsumed at a department event. I encouraged another co-worker to take half and I took the other half. Not only were these hoagies consumed that night (Thursday) for dinner but also on Sunday night with an array of other leftover foods that were pulled from the refrigerator including, salad that many would have thrown out although it was still good, chicken quesadillas from Saturday night, and rice from a previous meal.

Primo Hoagies Meal
Leftover Primo’s Hoagies

Before running to the food store, take the time to look through your Freezer/Fridge/Pantry to see what meals can be concocted. Be creative and go food shopping in your own house to use up the food you have. You would be amazed at what you can pull together. Not only are you saving food, but you are saving money! (Win Preechawutthidech)

Food Recovery Champions of the Week (3/25/13)

Our fridge at work after a week of events
Our fridge at work after a week of events

Last week’s food recovery award (if I were giving one out) would have to go to my co-workers Ilene, Ian, and Lauren. They were true champions for the cause, and took our Fels food recovery efforts to the next level! Beginning last Friday, we had an action-packed, event-filled week. As part of our national public policy challenge we invited teams from eight other public policy schools across the country to Philadelphia and fed them for the weekend as they competed. Despite having a million other things to do, Ilene, Ian, and Lauren dutifully saved the left-over food from dinners, lunches, and receptions.

By Monday morning, our fridge at work was filled with salmon, chicken dishes, salad, grilled veggies, guacamole, cheese, fruit, dessert, and more and our freezer was loaded up with frozen cookies, rolls, and bagels! All week, everyone in our office ate like kings and queens. But, that wasn’t all…

Ilene and Ian Saving Food
Ilene and Ian Saving Food

Their heroic efforts culminated in Harrisburg on Wednesday. After hosting an event at the State Capitol, we had trays and trays of leftover desserts, artichoke dip, and veggies. Despite getting funny looks from the caterers (who must be used to pitching oodles of food) they carefully wrapped everything up in Saran-wrap and drove it close to 2 hours back to the office.

So, for the trays and trays of food they saved, I’d like to nominate these three for this week’s food recovery award. I am extremely biased (since I benefitted greatly from their efforts), but I think the sheer distance they traveled with leftovers as well as the volume makes them stand out. Thanks Ilene, Ian, and Lauren for saving food, feeding me all week, and playing a part in reducing waste and optimizing resources! (Lauren Hirshon)