Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Munchable Soapbox: Waste Not Want Not

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Like some of the Jewish harvest holidays (Passover, Sukkot...), it really celebrates the beauty of the season. It's a time to be thankful for what we have, and enjoy the end of the fall crop. I even harped upon this topic for a week straight last year. But one thing that has always bothered me about how this holiday has transformed over years, is the emphasis on over-consumption. So, this year, I want to address the issue of excess and waste during the holiday.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about one third of all food is wasted worldwide. While in developing nations this is largely due to lack of infrastructure and post-harvest processing capabilities (like good roads and refrigeration), industrialized nations squander food after it has reached the consumer. Those 222 million tons of food waste generated annually in these countries. (almost equal to what is produced in Sub-Saharan Africa) are from uneaten restaurant portions, items past the sell-by date in the grocery store, etc.

Between Thanksgiving and New Years, we generate 5 million tons of food waste above-and-beyond our average. WorldWatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet blog has laid out ten ways to reduce holiday excess. I'm a big fan of exercising some restraint and practicing moderation (ie. this is NOT of a gorge-fest), repurpose leftovers (soups or stews are great for this), and composting.

And just a last thought, as the yoga teacher in me comes out, take some time over the next few days to really think about what you are grateful for. Despite the social pettiness, political corruption, and environmental degradation of our world, we do live in an amazing place. Look out the

Mark Bittman published some foodie thanks, if you need some inspiration!

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