I read a lot of homesteading blogs and other blogs that cover environmental or hippie topics from one direction or another. A common things that I see is various “challenges”, where the blogger will try really hard to do or not do something in a given time frame. Maybe it’s a no-TV challenge, where the blogger will not watch any television for a week or a month. Maybe it’s monitoring plastic purchases or going cold turkey on fast food. Recently, I watched several bloggers take part in a “Real Food Challenge“, which involved a variety of ways to alter one’s relationship with food.
Recently, I ran across a blogger who focuses on food waste. On Friday she posts what food her family wasted that week, including a picture. There are other bloggers who are in on this Food Waste challenge, including posting pictures of waste and outlining ways to reduce food waste.
In general, I really appreciate these kinds of challenges, and I sometimes enjoy them myself. Last summer, I did a two week project where I ate nothing but food, as defined by Michael Pollan. However, reading about this food waste gave me a bit of a chuckle.
You see, at The Wallow, from March to October (right now, in other words), there is no such thing as food waste. We have two pigs instead! For the people doing a food waste challenge, does inedible-to-people stuff count? I mean, you’re probably throwing away egg shells and apples cores, right? Here at The Wallow, we don’t have that kind of waste, either.
Some of the slop that goes to the pigs is the type of thing I might cut down on were I to do a food waste challenge. There’s the leftover milk from my breakfast cereal, for example. When I don’t have pigs, I am careful to use less milk in the first place, and any I have left over, I save to use in my cereal the next morning. With pigs, though, I can give them the excess. It’s not wasted because the milk is actually very good for them, and they love it.
On the other hand, some of the pig slop would never be eaten by people and would be “waste” under many other systems. The pigs eat, for instance, egg shells, apple cores, banana skins, strawberry tops, corn husks, avocado skins, and chicken bones. That’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t become waste and instead provides nutrition and enjoyment to the pigs.
The few things the pigs won’t eat, like citrus peels and corn cobs, go in the compost. Honestly, I have a hard time seeing that as waste, either. These are byproducts of providing ourselves food, and they go into the compost to help make more food in the future.
Here’s the bowl currently in my fridge, waiting to go out to the pigs:
There’s a banana peel, strawberry tops, chicken bones, and underneath there is the stuff that comes with a chicken that I don’t like to eat, like the liver and the neck.
Just recently I unpacked a bin that hadn’t been touched since Burning Man. It contained some leftover food items, like very squished packages of blueberry muffins and oatmeal cookies, the packets of cheese powder from macaroni and cheese, and an opened bag of Cheez-Its which were stale but otherwise fine (which is kind of scary!) Normally, I might feel kind of guilty about having wasted this food, but even though it’s likely still perfectly fine for human consumption, I wouldn’t eat it. Never fear, turns out the pigs love oatmeal cookies!
I’m sure I’ll feel differently about food waste after October, when we don’t have pigs any longer and won’t for 5 more months. For now, though, the idea of food waste is silly to me. I have pigs instead!