Diving into the Black Box – a Leftovers Challenge

Blush Lane- LeftOvers pickup
Photo credit: C. Van Brunschot

If you’ve been following my FRESH BITES blog or my FaceBook page, you’ll know I’m as hooked on issues of food waste and hunger as I am on sharing stories of great food in amazing places.  (Check out the new issue of City Palate magazine for my article “Feeding the Community” – highlighting an innovative organization tackling food waste and hunger right here in Calgary).

But when I learned from a 2014 City of Calgary study that 36% of the household trash hitting our local landfills was FOOD – and that more than half of that discarded food was edible – it was pretty impossible not to look at my own kitchen.

I like to think I do better than average at minimizing what I throw out (don’t we all?).  And my weekly volunteer work for LeftOvers Calgary certainly keeps a fire lit under my feet.  But DANG I get myself into trouble sometimes (see the reference to ataulfo mangos in the City Palate piece.  Add to that my weakness for fresh herbs, leafy greens, growing tomatoes, trying out unusual ingredients – throw in the siren call of Calgary’s great restaurants taking me away from my kitchen… Let’s just say my crisper drawer can get overwhelmed pretty quickly).

So I’ve decided it’s time to up my game.  I’m launching a six-week quest to reduce food waste in my own kitchen (six weeks’ practice creates a new habit, they say).

Each week, I’ll identify one thing that’s languishing in my fridge.  My task will be to find creative ways to use it up.  Sort of my own Black Box challenge.

In the interest of accountability, I’ll post my efforts to my blog.  I’ll include a recipe or two – and any tips I’ve uncovered on my own or from others.

Don’t think for a minute that this is just about principle and virtue and doing the right thing.  Truth is, I’ve tried previously to start my meal-planning with what’s already in my fridge and made a remarkable discovery:

It’s FUN! Gets my creative juices flowing.  Expands my cooking repertoire. (And – okay – makes me feel a little virtuous, too).

So look for my first Black Box post in January (Launching the series now, as we head into the holiday season = recipe for failure).  In the meantime, send me your own leftovers conundrums.  Or your proven personal tips.  Or tell me about people in the community who you know are tackling this well.

I’ll take a look at what’s lurking in my fridge and let you know what I find.

Text and photos © 2017 Catherine Van Brunschot