Monday, November 18, 2013

Waste

It is an unavoidable truth that a fridge will always contain wasted food. From the overstocked cornucopia that is the dream of the fridge designers everywhere to the most Spartan shelves of the impoverished student, something currently being kept at manufacturer recommended temperature is either destined for waste or already waste. It's not deliberate, of course, but that doesn't stop it from being inevitable.

Often it's simple thoughtlessness. Making a soup for dinner that needs carrots, buy a bag of carrots, use two in the soup, end up with half a dozen spare carrots. If you don't take note of the spare carrots, they can sit in the crisper until they become more flexible than noodles waiting for somebody to think to make a carrot cake. And then, whether compost or rubbish, it's off to a bin of some sort.

For some food it's wrong place, wrong time. The milk that got bought just before everybody went on holiday for a month. Had people been there, it easily would have been used as intended, as it is it's either off to the bin or wait long enough for it to become yoghurt.

In other cases it's impossible to tell until it's too late that the transformation has occurred from food to waste. The soy sauce looked fine last week and soy sauce surely doesn't go off, but somehow there's now a thin film of blue green something growing on it. The truly brave might scrape it off and keep going, the rest of us sigh at the waste and head to the sink, then the bin.

Sometimes it's the waste of thrift, that mental niggle that tells us wasting leftover takeaway is unacceptable. A little too much left over to throw out in good conscience, but not enough left over to constitute a meal, or even a solid snack. So the container sits there until nobody can remember how long it's been there, at which point in the interest of personal safety, it's off to the bin.

Then there's the waste of self-deception. Low-fat zero sugar dairy-like diet snack tubs? Really? Was that ever going to be anything more than a token to assuage a guilty conscience? I suppose it could be argued that it hasn't gone to waste if it's provided some mental succour, but in a more real sense, it's now spoiled and needs to be thrown out.

Somewhere in the world there is probably something that approaches the Platonic ideal of a fridge, containing exactly as much food as required by the household to whom it belongs, and I congratulate the obsessive individual who manages to maintain such order. Congratulate but secretly doubt their humanity.

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