I have the feeling that this is how many people reacted who went through the last war/s: afterwards, when everything was freely available again. they just went overboard, and carried on doing so until now we have this through-away society. However, not everybody showed this reaction. My parents were the opposite; they'd gone through two wars, and could still remember what hunger was. Nothing got thrown out (not just food), they grew most of our veg and fruit in the garden, and were frugal until the end of their lives.
And then you read articles like this one from the Sunday Herald last week:
HOMEFRONT: Fiona Gibson
THE AVERAGE family with children slings out Â£610 worth of food every year. We certainly dispose of the odd item we've found twitching at the back of the fridge. However, since a (wealthy) friend switched to organic-only, she reports that nothing is thrown away, "because it's so bloody expensive". So it can be done. It's all a matter of organisation, and being less fussy. Scoffing the odd wrinkled apple seems a small price to pay for a smug glow.
The week starts badly. We have acquired a vast quantity of parsnips which don't merely look tired, they are clearly suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Soup! Isn't that the smart way to use up decaying veg? I check the BBC website for a recipe and discover that it requires fresh thyme, cream and dry cider, none of which we have, and takes 30 to 60 minutes to prepare. Up to a whole hour to make beige sludge that would be dismissed by our children and left to turn slowly fizzy in the pot? Parsnips stay in the fridge, in the hope that they'll morph into something delicious. Beside them, a packet of bacon is wizened and curly. Can I risk poisoning my family just to chip away at our waste bill? Into the bin with it.
Daughter brings home bruised strawberries in her lunchbox. What the heck - did anyone die from strawberry poisoning? They are slimy and pretty unpleasant. I eat them with some out-of-date natural yoghurt, which worries me slightly, although organic friend retorts that yoghurt "lies around in Bedouin tents for ages" and is therefore perfectly fine until it's acquired a thick layer of mould. It reminds me of my old house-sharing days: if it's not shrouded in blue fur, then gobble it up before somebody else does. Shouldn't I have moved on by now?
A home worker's lunches are rarely glamorous. This week I plummet to new depths, troughing anything which appears to be staggering towards the end of its lifespan: fluffy apples, soggy bananas, decrepit cheese which requires all of its edges to be sliced off, leaving a pathetic, dice-sized cube, and the rest of the Bedouin yoghurt. I soon discover that using up leftovers often means denying yourself the very thing you really want to eat. So, although you're no longer hungry, you're certainly not satisfied. It's like expecting to quell a chocolate craving with a celery stick. They are not the same thing. Plus, as you're unwilling to foist ageing foodstuffs on your family - they would snort in your face anyway - you end up hoovering up the lot yourself. You can spend an entire week consuming nothing that's remotely new or fresh. It's like discovering that your CD collection has been replaced with Bananarama and Culture Club.
In Burnt Toast, her self-help-book-cum-memoir, actress Teri Hatcher warns against living on leftovers: "Maybe you didn't want to be wasteful, but if you go ahead and eat that blackened square of bread, then what you're really saying is that the piece of bread is worth more than your own satisfaction." Darn right. I feel like a human waste disposal unit. Let's face it: leftovers are either wrinkled or clammy and suspiciously wet. That's why no-one ate them in the first place.
Friends who claim to throw out virtually nothing tend to plan their meals in advance. Canny, I know, as most food waste is caused by misjudging how much one family can possibly guzzle and buying too much. However, I can't feel excited by knowing I'll be eating pork chops and French beans in 17 days' time. It makes me want to concuss myself with a cookbook.
So I am ashamed to admit that this week we have binned: six stale rolls, the parsnips, some prehistoric Cheerios, flabby celery, carrot sticks which had taken on the appearance of rotting wood, and the sinister bacon. I have consumed a leftover warm, moist cheese string from my son's lunchbox - it was like eating a long, thin slug - and still don't feel remotely smug. I just feel queasy, actually.
For goodness sake - what a load of lazy excuses. She can't even cook soup without a recipe - and because the only recipe she manages to find has ingredients that are not in her cupboard, this option is off?
Her daughter brings strawberries back from school - so obviously she wasn't hungry and didn't eat them. Chances are she bought crisps or so instead...
I could go on and on - but this is symptomatic of Joe and Jill Public's attitude. What - use leftovers? But I caaaaaan't!
Stop bloody whining, folks. Sometimes I wish for another war just to make these people learn not to use more than they really need.
I'm a size 10, really; I wear a 20 for comfort. (Gina Yashere)