I do hope that you have a penchant for bread. Why? Well you can expect a whole lotta bread-related recipes to come your way in the following weeks. I have just started working at a local gourmet sandwich bar/café (and before you ask, no, it’s not Subway). Whilst this particular enterprise does a commendable job of minimising it’s food waste there is almost always bread left over at the end of the day. In the beginning it was like Christmas come early – trudging home reeking of putrid dishwashing water didn’t feel quite so bad when armed with bags of soft, pillowy café-style bread. But when that occurs after every shift we begin to hit a slight glitch – our household barely goes through a loaf of bread a week. So slowly but surely our very small freezer has begun to fill with white, multigrain, whole-wheat and rye specimens, all shoved in higgeldy-piggeldy. By Saturday night it had reached a crisis point – now each time one opens the freezer door they are in severe danger of being knocked out by a falling loaf of bread. I almost felt obliged to put up a sign saying “warning bread overhead” but the decided it was probably better to keep the lame rhymes to myself.
You see, the public holiday on Monday proved to be rather problematic for our poor freezer. On Saturday afternoon my hobo ‘status’ surged to all new levels as I lugged a big black garbage bag (the only bag I could find that was big enough) home. Who knew bread could be so darn heavy – I swear I almost put my back out! It’s unbelievable the difference one measly day makes. The potential for additional food waste came at us on two fronts – firstly we were significantly quieter than usual, and secondly, closing on the Monday meant that significantly more food was deemed ‘unsafe’ to store. There were four of us working on Saturday and despite us taking home more food than we could poke a stick at, we still had to throw some away. With each rubbish bag I flung into the skip-bin, a part of me died a little inside. There was actually nothing wrong with the food I was throwing away. It wasn’t off, heck, it wasn’t even old – most was baked/prepared that very morning. When you look at the bigger picture and consider how many more sweaty, smelly people were hurling bags of perfectly edible food into skip-bins across the state (though it’s true that not all food enterprises close over public holidays), it adds up to a horrific amount of waste.
I think I’d be safe to remark that this is a purely Western problem. Is there anything we can do to remedy it? Urging the manager/boss/person in charge to donate to food banks, soup kitchens and other charity organisations is a good place to start. It’s kind of a given that public holidays come with good food, so isn’t it only proper for the homeless and disadvantaged to be privy to the same luxury? If you do work in the food industry and are permitted to take leftovers home, take as much as you can possibly carry, and then a bit more. Even if it is more than your household can feasibly eat, I’m sure you can find someone else to pawn it off to. Speaking from experience, you’ll wiggle into your neighbours good books if you leave a parcel of free and fresh food on their doorstep! As for me, I’ll be making croutons, bread and butter pudding, French toast, burgers, breadcrumbs etc. until the cows come home, in an attempt to mitigate our current freezer hazard.