The Value Of Food

stewie struttingLast week with Dick’s daughter and her 2 children here sure made me stop and think about the different values everyone has on different things. The one thing that stood out most was the value or lack of it for food.

Food has a very high price tag, doesn’t matter if it is bought from the farmers market, the grocery, wild harvested, or something we have raised and put up ourselves. The price isn’t only seen in actually paying for it but in the cost of the energy need to produce and preserve it, fertilizer, the cost of butchering and supplies or just plain old sweat equity and elbow grease. There is a price on everything even if you don’t think about it.

Part of being self sufficient, and living simply is to carefully watch what comes into and out of the house. I was amazed that she and her family are very much part of the disposable, wasteful, instant gratification culture that is a big problem in the world. She certainly wasn’t raised this way, she has mutated…err I mean evolved…err I mean regressed…?

She brought with her a cooler full of items she knew would go bad before she returned back home. After she told me this I thought wow, good thinking. I then for the next week watched as her children would open expensive tiny bottles of sipping yogurt, take a few sips and set it down to be forgotten. Only to return a short time later to the fridge for another. I would try to hand them the left behind one I put in the fridge but they would have no part of it. So I would ask them to give it to the chickens, they wanted no part of that and tossed it in the trash. I would retrieve it and do it myself.

sage in potApples another great food brought with her, a few bites and into the trash. I would pick them out wash them off and to the horses and chickens they went. The ones left on the table I would wash, cut up and made a fine salad for snacks, they never knew the difference.

It wasn’t just the kids either. I made some very tasty sun brewed tea and she enjoyed it very much yet that same afternoon came lugging home a huge jug of tea in a plastic jug. I asked her what she liked about it and read the ingredients, nothing but green tea, corn syrup and artificial color. Humm…with a price tag of $3.99 on the label. She had told me she just liked it…and when that was gone returned to drinking the sun tea I had made.

I could go on but you get the idea. The food so expensive and just thrown away, past it’s immediate use and having no other value in their eyes. Food around here doesn’t get thrown away unless spoiled and that happens rarely. There is a food chain around here and all food must make it’s way down through that chain before it is ever thrown out. I’m not saying I feed my family or animals spoiled food, oh’ no we all eat well.

  • human-I will save and make use of every last bit of food that I can think of ways to use it. For example peelings from veggies, and bones are saved for making meat stock. Bread ends are saved for bread crumbs or bread pudding. The water used to cook veggies in is saved for stock as well as bits of left over cooked veggies. I always find ways to use left overs. What we can’t eat is passed along to the next level.


  • chickens- love left over rice, bread, veggies, eggs, milk products. Not spoiled food. They are above the horses, cats and dogs because they provide food for us. I would rather put the food energy into raising healthy chickens for eggs and meat to in turn feed us. If I can supplement any part of their diet with food already paid for it saves us the cost of grain for them. I also look for wild growing food sources for them. Good examples of this are the clover and dandelions I dry all summer for them to eat this winter. I have also been saving earth worms. I put them in a cloth bag to dry in the sun, later I will grind them and store for winter too. With this rainy weather worm picking has been super, easy pickings off the driveway every morning. I have been drying them in the oven after I turn it off.


  • horse-enjoy stale bread, soft apples (I would make sauce if I have enough)…treats just because I love them and enjoy their company. They do work for us and provide me with good excercise.  Ya’ cleaning stalls and riding-it’s a two for one… excercise and meditation quiet time.


  • dog/cats-Provide no food value but are part of our family and do provide some sort of protection for our other animals and us. Or at least I like to think so. I know the cats keep the mice, chipmunks and moles away. The dog always lets us know when someone or something (coyote, moose, bear, fox, mink) is in the yard. I will feed them bits of meat trimmings, bones, cheese, rice, milk and eggs. This helps suppliment their regular diet. Maybe a left over peanut butter sandwich from a lunch bag and stale crackers.


  • compost-hardly any food is sent here. Last week I added potato peels because they were a bit pitty. Strawberry tops & corn cobs after the chickens were done with them. Tea and coffee grounds (tea and coffee could have been dug into the gardens but it was raining so hard). If I had a worm bin it would be above the compost bin. This type of stuff would have been given to them. The worm bin is on my list to get up and running this summer. Worms will make great fertilizer for the gardens and feed the chickens.

I did have several banana peels that I blended in the blender until very small and burried them next to the rose bushes. The cooking water from some veggies such as spinach is cooled and given to the growing plants in the garden (in garden season).

So mostly our compost is garden materials and saved papers. Our mail and newspapers when we are done with it is shredded and saved for the chickens bedding, once used the dirty bedding and chicken manure will head to the compost bin. With this system composting is mostly a seasonal activity apart from the manure pile. Some of the newspapers are saved and used for mulch in the garden. After a winter of saving newspapers there are plenty to go around. If I should need more the recycling center has piles of them I can take.

herbs in potsOur lawn mowers are self mulching sending the grass clipping right back into the grass so there isn’t anything to rake up there. It’s not that lawn is a huge priority but we do have some, mostly clover, and this keeps it looking nice and that’s about all the attention it will ever get around here. I do pick violets, red clover blossoms and dandelions out of it in season.

Even an egg shell has value to be turned back into food. I wash, dry and powder/crush them to feed to the chickens and dog. They also end up in the bottom of planting holes for the tomatoes along with an aspirin or two. They are a good source of calcium.

Thinking about food with these values should open up a whole new way to see what’s left on your table and not simply tossed into the trash. You paid for it use it!


Posted on June 22, 2009, in Gardening, Planning, The Barn and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. awesome. I loved reading this bit entry. Really great that everything is used so efficiently and nothing is really ‘thrown’ away. I can’t wait to move out of the city!

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