Food Waste: The saga doth persist

Waste happens when food spends too much time in one place. For me there are three locations: the fridge, the freezer, and the counter or pantry. While there are only three locations, I still manage to mismanage my food by leaving it in one location for too long. Case in point – Today I went to make some tasty homemade corn tortilla chips for my daughter, when I discovered the tortillas were green. Grrrr. The tortillas spent too much time on my counter. It all boils down to: Food. Store correctly. Not too long.


(my scrolling text widget is still broken – so imagine that the following text is scrolling. Oh, and imagine the Star Wars theme too.)

Not so long ago, in a house pretty close by….

Food Waste

Episode 5

The Saga Doth Persist

Waste happens when food spends too much time in one place. For me there are three locations: the fridge, the freezer, and the counter or pantry. While there are only three locations, I still manage to mismanage my food by leaving it in one location for too long.

Case in point – Today I went to make some tasty homemade corn tortilla chips for my daughter, when I discovered the tortillas were green. Grrrr. The tortillas spent too much time on my counter. I think the Seattle tortilla algorithm is something like this:

IF Counter.Tortillas.Age > 5 days THEN MoveTo Fridge
IF Fridge.Tortillas.Age > 20 days THEN MoveTo Freezer
IF Freezer.Tortillas.Age = Unknown THEN MoveTo Compost

It all boils down to: Food. Store correctly. Not too long.
(and yes, this is loosely based on Michael Pollan’s quote: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants).

Alright, drum roll please…


What? In case this saga is new to you, let me explain. I’ve been documenting my weekly food waste, shining a light on my wasteful ways in order to reduce waste.

Here’s a line by line description of this week’s waste, complete with categories.

Bean sproutsWent bad early: Despite being far before the sell by date, these tasted funny. Note to self: find non pre-packaged sprouts.
CornLaziness: I didn’t want to get out the big ol’ pot to boil this single ear. Now that I think about it, there are other ways to cook corn. Time for me to think outside the box.
CauliflowerLimited demand: My CSA was cauliflower crazy for a few weeks, creating a backup in my fridge. I need more cauliflower recipes (please share if you have one). 
Corn tortillasPoor storage: I left these on the counter, which in moist Seattle is a recipe for mold.

IF Tortillas.Age > 5 days THEN
  Tortillas.MoveTo = Fridge
  Tortillas.Color = Green

Alright that’s all the food waste algorithms I have for today. Please post a Comment about food waste, algorithms, or food waste algorithms.

Have a terrific waste free day!

Author: Kate

I'm a writer interested in photography, philosophy, bikes and simplicity.

7 thoughts on “Food Waste: The saga doth persist”

  1. I can totally hear the Star Wars theme buzzing in my head. And those words were definitely scrolling down (in my mind).

    Since I’m fresh out of algorithms, I’ll talk waste.
    First off–glad to see you shedding light so that others can learn. Kudos.
    Second–what is Seattle-specific about tortillas on the counter aging rapidly? I just keep mine in the fridge straight away and they last pretty long.

    Bean sprouts–your idea is a good one–I’d try to find some place that sells them loose so you can buy just the amount you want. Because bean sprouts seem to be trying to go bad.

    Cauliflower–not sure on recipes, but the only time I’ve really enjoyed it was in Indian dishes. But you probably already do that. Saute in garlic and olive oil works for everything else, so maybe here, too.

    Keep fighting the good fight (and the Dark Side).

    1. Jonathan:

      > what is Seattle-specific about tortillas on the counter aging rapidly?

      It’s rather moist here in Seattle – land of moss and mold.

      I’ll continue to fight for good. The force is strong it is (yoda voice).


  2. I get what you mean about the cauliflower, but I am recently into roughly mashing it. Kind of like smashed potatoes but subbing cauliflower. Add some herbs, little lowfat sourcream, lemon pepper… quite nice :)

  3. Here’s a recipe from my CSA for cauliflowe. I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds delicious. I agree with Jonathan- my favorite way to enjoy cauliflower is in Indian food.

    Spicy Indian Cauliflower


    oil for frying
    pinch of cumin seed
    pinch of mustard seed
    2 tsp minced ginger
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    one onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 tsp ground turmeric
    one medium cauliflower, cut into flowerlets
    2 tsp red chili powder (or 3 chopped green chilis)
    salt and pepper
    chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


    1. Heat the oil in a fry pan (about 2 to 3 tbsp) and add the mustard seed.
    2. When the seeds start to pop, add the cumin, ginger, garlic and onion. Stir fry for a few minutes until the onion turns golden.
    3. Sprinkle ground turmeric and add the cauliflower. Stir fry for another 2 minutes to coat the vegetable.
    4. Add the chili powder or chilis, salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Cover the pan and cook until cauliflower is soft. Stir occasionally. Toss cilantro on top when ready to serve.

    I also recently learned from Leigh at Compact by Design about mashed cauliflower. You make it just like potatoes- mash by hand and add a little butter, salt and pepper.

    And finally- I can’t remember where the recipe is, but cauliflower soup is delicious.

    But now you probably won’t be getting any more cauliflower!

  4. Sara beat me to the punch with the mashed ‘potatoes’ (I’m behind in reading your blog but catching up all at once :). Steam the cauliflower until tender, then put in a bowl with a little butter and milk and beat with a mixer until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Yummy and healthy comfort food!

  5. Hi

    I am indian , so my cauliflower recipe is indian again… but it is v simple….


    Cauliflower – washed and cut into small pieces.
    oil for frying
    salt, pepper for taste.
    MTR rasam powder/MTR chilli powder.

    Just fry the cauliflower in oil till it is golden brown. Place in a bowl lined with tissue paper to remove excess oil.

    Take another serving bowl, add salt, pepper powder, rasam powder/chilli powder (as per your taste buds – you can increase or decrease the quantity of these powders.) Add the fried cauliflower to the bowl and mix till each cauliflower has observed the spices…

    Then, it can be served as a side dish ( like how we do with chappati), or used as a filling for burritos ( like our traditional black beans).

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