There is a saying in Greece: ‘occupation syndrome’, which refers to someone’s fear of not having enough to eat because of their experiences during WW II. Because this is what wars do. They leave their marks for many generations. On the one hand, my mom’s generation, born in the 1950s, had this syndrome. Born after WWII, her childhood was not characterized by abundance. As adults, however, the agricultural revolution changed everything. Their fridges and cabinets were always full. Not with necessarily with food of quality, but definitely with quantity – and they respected the goods they were blessed with.
Grandmas said “throwing your food away is a sin!” But maintaining a balance was not so easy, given the fact that the lived in two totally opposite situations – as children and adults. Nowadays social movements combating food waste has made tremendous progress in keeping this balance, but there is so much more to do. Globally 17% of food is thrown out as garbage. More than half of it derives from households and the rest is from restaurants, markets, and trade. Which means that we can do something about it. Usually, during the holidays we prepare too much food. Well, that is another ‘Greek syndrome’. If we do not overeat and over-drink we are not having fun. There must be no guests left unsatisfied and hungry. To be sure, we make too much, leaving leftovers. Even my mom does that!
OK that’s in our blood, tradition, and culture – extravagance. But we can evolve away from bad habits and traditions. So, what can we do? Here are some ‘tips and tricks’ for food waste: Don’t be afraid of the freezer! Most cooked foods keep very well – texture and taste – in the freezer. Also, there are studies that show that it is preferable to freeze vegetables and fruits fresh, rather that keep them in the fridge for a long time. For some minerals or other micronutrients it is better, for others, however, that is not no so. Cut veggies can be a ready-to-use conveniency for soups, casseroles, and noodles/pasta. Fruits are ideal for smoothies and save you time! Keep a weekly meal calendar. This may sound challenging, but it will save you money, resources, and time! You will not throw away so much food, which will help your wallet and you will have a more balanced diet. It may sound like it requires a lot of time, but maintaining such a an organized habit will change your mind! You can save money for more quality than quantity.
Be creative – famous chefs and cooks offer a wide variety of recipes, based on main ingredient, and many of them have a ‘leftovers corner’ of recipes. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to taste new things! I was amazed how some traditional lentil soup (fakes) can be transformed into a marvellous tuna salad! Because my mom made lentils only as soup!
Learn how to extend the life of foods in your fridge or cabinet. Place cucumbers in a bag to keep their moisture. Potatoes or onions should be stored in dark places. Greens are best covered with towels etc. Just Google it!
My main advice is try to replace quantity with quality. If you find something expensive, there is definitely a substitute with high quality but is less expensive. Again, buy local – and try to be as organic as you can.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.