I was reading the Wild Oats e-mail newsletter yesterday and was surprised by two things. First, I subscribe to the Wild Oats newsletter. When did that happen? Wild Oats is a health food store which stocks organic produce and whey protein and other food items that three years ago I would have simply labeled “crazy hippie kibble.” Now I’m the kind of person who’s watching for sales on frozen blueberries so I can make more smoothies and oat pancakes. The second surprise was that according to an article called Spoiled Rotten, Americans “throw out 25 percent of the produce they buy because it’s gone bad.” Wow, that’s a lot of rotten tomatoes. Bad comedians beware.
Then I thought about the fresher drawer in my own fridge. It’s currently home to a tomato that will probably collapse into a liquid mess like Senator Kelly from the X-Men movies if I try to touch it. There’s also a head of lettuce that looks fine from the top, but is turning into a gooey, black mess on the bottom, like a model for the decaying infrastructure of our government. Then there was the entire bag of grapes I tossed last week because I didn’t get around to eating them before they started to turn. So yeah, 25 percent of produce sounds like a pretty good estimate. I usually try to save the good parts if possible, like a surgeon amputating someone’s leg. I can sometimes just cut off the moldy part of sweet potato or a block of cheese and eat the rest without developing food poisoning.
The article also says “some fruits emit ethylene, an odorless, colorless gas.” That sounds kind of scary. I’ve got a carbon-monoxide detector to warn me about that odorless, colorless gas, but evidently ethylene emitting from my bananas won’t kill me. It will however speed the ripening process and “lead to the premature decay of nearby ethylene-sensitive vegetables.” I’m supposed to sort my ethylene-emitting vegetables away from my ethylene-absorbing ones. And I thought we’d left segregation behind in the 1960’s.
Then the article starts to get kind of complicated since it says which fruits to refrigerate and which ones to under no circumstances to refrigerate and the ones that ohmygod never, ever let near gas releasers. Can you believe I have been refrigerating my peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes? It all starts to get very complicated and I have to wonder how many separate containers I would need in the fridge to follow all these rules.
Then they list foods in the order of how quickly they go bad, which is very handy and I’ll have to print it out and stick it on the fridge. Then I can look at it as I’m throwing away my lettuce and say, “Yep, I really was supposed to eat this earlier in the week. Oops!” because even though I have a list I doubt it will make me eat a salad on a day I don’t want to.