Sunday, February 24, 2008


My family will be happy to inform you that there are a few things that I am really obsessive about, and one of them is wastefulness, especially wasting food.

Is it because I grew up poor, with Depression-era parents? Or because I know what it's like to feed a family on very limited finances? Or because I've been in a few poor countries? Or because I know my own son was so hungry at one point that he would root through garbage or go eat raw corn off the ears in the neighbor's cornfield?

Probably all of the above. It really really bothers me when food is wasted. Like the time we went to a banquet fundraiser to help the Eugene Mission feed the hungry, and were served more food than any temperate person could possibly eat, and many many pieces of baked chicken and delicious carrot cake got sent to the trash. . .and I think the irony of this escaped everyone but me.

I make the kids clean their plates even though the experts say it will warp their personalities--(easy solution here: teach them to take small portions). And I am the queen of using up leftovers creatively and of feeding to the chickens what the humans in the house won't eat any more.

So the other day I was at Grocery Outlet piling my stuff on the counter when I heard the clerks talking among themselves. "I'm taking two." "Have him save one for me."

The clerk saw my curious look and explained, "We got a load of eggs in but they're one day outdated, so we have to throw them out. But I'm going to take a few cases home."

"One day outdated and you can't sell them?" I said.
"But couldn't you give them to the Eugene Mission?"
"They don't take anything outdated."

Obviously I understand this policy--salmonella and lawsuits and all. But has common sense completely deserted us? We all know those eggs had been refrigerated up until the last ten minutes or so, and it was a cold day. From all the United Way campaigns we know there are lots of hungry children right here in Eugene, and hundreds of homeless folks besides. And we toss hundreds of perfectly good eggs into the trash.

I think that's terrible. Or am I just being obsessive?

Quote of the Day:
"I went to the humidity of staying home."
--Steven, fussing that I made him skip school when he wasn't that sick. I think he meant "humility."


  1. I understand your point, but just don't see a way around it. I mean if you accept food one day out of date what about two or three? Or a week? I think my mom's "Better safe than sorry" is at work here.

  2. there was an article floating through the blog,zanga,email world on Haiti did you read it? The rising price of fuel has hurt them so much some have resorted to eating cakes made with little bits of lard&salt but mostly dirt Given how there is virtually no nutritional value in this it's causing all types of phsical problems and while we here are throwing out eggs that are outdated by a day and leftovers that(ouch) just did not get eaten they are stll hungary n starving

  3. You and my husband would get along GREAT! =) He thinks that there's nothing much worse than some food item turning into a science project in the fridge! I agree with your solution of teaching our kids to take small portions!

  4. To add my two cents worth: when we have a meal with some leftovers, I put a piece of masking tape on the top with the date on it, then the chances of food turning into "science projects" is a lot less likely to occur. I also do not like wasting food. And yes, I agree that taking smaller portions wouldn't hurt any of us.

  5. Hey Dorcas....just wanted to let you know that last night..or was it Saturday...I was reading your posts regarding Florida and howled with laughter. I love people who can laugh at themselves and at their culture. You are a gem.

  6. "I think that's terrible."

    So do I.

    "Or am I just being obsessive?"

    Not in my I Certainly Wouldn't Want To Incriminate Myself opinion.

    You just keep on preachin' it, ma'am!

    (That sounds better and way more appropriate for me to write to you than "You go, baby" or even "Atta girl" -- which I hope I never say or write to you -- but shouldn't there be a comma after Atta?)

  7. Atta girl!! :)

  8. Count me in! I thought I was the last of a dying breed who "doesn't throw out perfectly good food." And here you are, a generation younger and saying the same thing. I used the line, "I was raised by parents who lived through the depression" while almost gasping at the food that was declared unfit to eat by younger staff at the office I worked at. (We had a nice kitchen with a fridge even.) Mary Horst

  9. I read your blog just after I emailed our Pa state rep. re: the expired food bill. The bill would make it illegal to sell outdated food in Pa. Then what are they going to do with it? It passed in the house and is up for vote in the senate. If you live in Pa contact your senator and let them know your opinion. My senator is opposed for fear of what it would do to charities. Personally, I do all my shopping at discount stores and buy alot of outdated food that is quite good yet. There have only been a few times I have had to throw something away if it was questionable. Thanks Dorcas for your blog. I agree 100%.

  10. We generally have no idea how much food goes to landfills in North America.

    In Dryden I was on the board of the Dryden Food Bank. We gave food to between 70 and 100 families every week. All the food was donated by the three grocery stores in the town. All of it would have gone to the dump if it hadn't been distributed by the food bank.

    If you would add to that all the food that restaurants throw away as well, it would be even harder to believe.

    I don't think you are being obsessive.


  11. it would be nice if the eggs could be given to the mission before midnight the day before the expiration date.