Our Kitchens and Food Waste – Sage Culley

After reading American Wasteland by Jonathon Bloom this past Winter, I felt the definite disconnect in homes these days when it comes to food waste. I don’t necessarily think families intend or want to waste, but many just don’t know how to make the most of the foods they purchase. As I made my way through the book, I began looking at my own waste. I quickly realized that most of my waste was food waste. As a result, I started composting. I was able to reduce my weekly curbside garbage pick-up to once a month!

I began to wonder, what if every home composted? I started asking customers at the farmers’ market if they composted. And, to my surprise many did. Which prompted the question, what other things could we do to help reduce household waste? One thing that came to mind was to reduce the waste from spoiled leftovers. Which I discovered was a common problem for many American families, while watching my nieces & nephew for a few months.

I decided to use my brother’s kitchen as a laboratory. I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed a trash can, got comfortable on the kitchen floor and decided to do a refrigerator dump. I discovered containers filled with leftovers from dinner, Chinese take-out, a container of mushroom soup I dropped off several days ago, uneaten because they were forgotten about. I found spoiled fruits and vegetables in drawers, with fresh fruits and vegetables stacked on top from a recent shopping trip. Could any of this be saved? How could I help? After a fun filled evening of chucking food, I decided to continue the experiment. I hoped to find out why they thought there were so many leftovers and spoiled, uneaten food in the refrigerator. The general consensus was that the waste was caused by not knowing the schedule for that particular week, buying what they “thought” they needed at the market, and the finicky eating habits of the kids.

So, what can we do to combat this frustrating problem? A problem that’s costing us money that could equate to a nice vacation at the end of the year? After the refrigerator dump experiment at my brother’s, I discovered the one thing I use in my kitchen that their household did not was the freezer. The freezer is my saving grace when it comes to making the most of my food purchases. For example: When I make a big pot of chili or spinach pie, if by day three I haven’t made a dent in it, I pack it up and freeze it to enjoy later. Sometimes I’ll make a dish, and as soon as it cools, freeze for a quick weeknight dinner later on. This may seem like common sense to some, but I believe the freezer is under utilized in most kitchens. Another great tip, shared by my college friend Paula years ago has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years. Instead of letting the ground meat (you intended on grilling up – but never got around to) go to waste, fry it up on the stove, drain, and freeze it. It can be used for a quick easy meal of tacos or casserole another night.

Another tip shared in American Wasteland, was to be more realistic about when will be actually cook at home. So often, we have the best intensions to cook dinner five or six nights a week, but end up eating out three to four nights a week due to scheduling conflicts or being too tired to cook. If we could all be a little more realistic with our expectations and our grocery lists, we would minimize our waste, decrease the land needed for landfills and ultimately put more money in our pockets.


Waste Not, want not…. New Program Kicks Off Opening Day at the Market

Waste Not , want not…. by Sage Anne Culley

What does this phrase actually mean? The proverbial saying was first recorded in 1772 but had an earlier, even more alliterative version from 1576, “willful waste makes woeful want.” Many of us whose parents, grandparents or great grandparents grew up during the World War I & II expressed this idiom as a way of survival.  The government depicted this intention through a variety of inspirational posters   posters directing citizens to act with phrases like “Use it up & wear it out” or Save perishable foods by preserving now.

Looking for more current versions of the expression Wikipedia defined waste not as – “If we are not wasteful of our resources (that we currently have), we still have them in the future.”  But my personal favorite in researching was direct and to the point – “Waste and want; save and have”.

More importantly what does this all mean for the Countryside Farmers’ Markets? “Waste Not” is a program modeled after the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture’s,(CUESA) Waste Wise program in California. This program was developed to get as close to zero waste as possible and our Waste Not program has been designed to divert 90% of our market’s waste by 2012. This will allow us to walk the talk of sustainability decreasing the amount of Ohio land needed for landfills while keeping that land available for farming. Waste Not will accomplish this goal by educating you and our community to Buy Thoughtfully, Cook Carefully and Waste Less. As part of the program each market will have a designated “Waste Not” booth with educational materials and tools geared towards recycling, shopping wiser, minimizing cooking waste, composting, and repurposing. We will feature topics throughout the season akin to “What to do with your pumpkins after Halloween” and “Christmas tree’s – How to purchase and dispose of after the holiday.” We’re very excited about the Waste Not program and look forward to the opportunity to be a resource for reducing waste in our communities.

 Our vision…  Some of the things we will be doing in 2011 include;

  • Encourage the use of reusable bags for shopping instead of plastic bags by selling reusable bags at the market
  • Encourage the use of re-usable mugs when purchasing beverages at the market
  • Educate consumers on recycling and composting at our markets. Waste stations staffed with a volunteer will provide information on how to properly discard items purchased at the market. We will also have a staffed information booth that will explain the program offering educational tools and tips for recycling and composting in their communities.
  • Our website (www.cvcountryside.org), blog and Facebook pages will be used to feature Waste Not monthly and seasonal items to consider when diverting waste.

Pending continued funding, future plans include working with our vendors to minimize waste, including;  Waste diversion for vendors cooking and serving ready to eat foods at the market; assisting vendors with sourcing recyclable and compostable packaging and significantly reduce the use of plastic bags in 2012 .



 ***First “250” shoppers with a reusable grocery bag will receive a CVCC magnet***

RECYCLED ART PROJECTS                                                                            

9:00am – 11:30am –   Recycled Art Projects for Kids

Leona from Glass by Leona – Making Mobile’s Out of Old CD’s

Amy Hecky – Making Kites out of Plastic Bags


Presented by Ms. Julie

9:30am – “Making the Most of Your Market Produce”

  • Juicing, using the juice pulp, making broths, canning/freezing, composting & recycling.
  • Buying only what you need – Things to consider when shopping at the market

10:30am – “Making the Most of Your Market Produce”


Presented by Beth Gatchell, Cleveland Museum of Natural History

10:00am  –  Vermi-Composting 101

11:00am – Vermi-Composting 101


9:00am- 12:00pm

WASTE NOT INFORMATION BOOTH                                                    


  • Available to answer questions about the “New” Waste Not program & area resources
  • Recycle your old or broken cell phones & printer ink cartridges for cancer