A Food Ladder?

I thought I would talk about our food ladder since I haven’t for some time now and I have several emails asking about it and how it works.

First off what exactly is it? The ladder is the steps everything takes while being used. Here I believe everything has more than one use. The idea that something is bought for a single purpose is silly to me and a new idea brought to us by the marketing here in the US. In my Grandmother’s generation everything was used and reused until it could not be used again and most of the time another use was found for something if it was held onto long enough.

Material was bought for making clothes. Those clothes were worn well and handed down to the next. Once no one could wear them any longer, squares were cut for quilts, patches and cleaning rags. What couldn’t be used as squares were torn into strips for making rugs, lining the chicken boxes, dog house or sent to the compost pile.  Tell most of these children today they will be wearing their older siblings clothing this year and see the strange look you will get. Tell that same child to take a pair of scissors and cut that worn out shirt into squares, and save the zippers and buttons and laugh at the new look of puzzlement on their face.

More than once we have been at friend’s homes and after dinner all the food gets scraped from the plates and into the trash or garbage disposal.  More than once while eating out with friends they will leave food on the plates for the restaurant to throw away. A terrible waste to me. I always ask for a doggie bag and will bring it all home with me. I see it as hard-earned money being tossed into the trash. Food costs good money these days, far to much to be thrown away when it needs to eaten by someone be it human or animal.

Food we have worked hard to produce or purchase does not go into the trash. Here is the US the amount of food headed to the trash is staggering to me. It is estimated that 1/2 of all food ends up in the trash. Why would anyone take $75-100 each week and throw it in the trash?  That is what is happening when you buy food and don’t eat it, or leave most of your meal behind at the restaurant.

First I look through the fridge every day to see what needs to be eaten up before it goes bad. There are so many new meals that can be made from left overs if you just think about it. Hey what’s wrong with a plain old left over night anyway?  I  try not to have left overs to start with, each night after a meal the left overs are put into a container or frozen for the times when someone wants something quick to eat or for lunch the next day.

Things that can be saved for making another meal such as veggie peelings, bones, the water used to cook veggies all gets saved for soup stock. I have a large bag in the freezer and when I have peeling such as carrot ends or celery tops into the bag they go. Bones have their own bag. I also cook this down to feed the dog with our own made dog food. Come winter everyone is glad to have a nice homemade soup or stew, why go out to buy the veggies to make the stock when you could have saved them to start with? Does the peels, ends or stems have any less nutritional value? The stock is all strained before making soup with fresh new veggies any way., old cake

That spoonful of left over broccoli is saved for soup or for dog food. That 1/2 loaf of stale bread is made into bread crumbs or a bread pudding.

Things that won’t get eaten by us first go to the animals that will be feeding us. Here it is the chickens. If we can’t eat it the chickens will. Not rotten food! but things like sour milk, stale bread, left overs from our plates, egg shells old cake. Scraps from the garden and less than perfect veggies we won’t eat. Those chickens eat the food and make us nice tasty eggs in return.

Next down the ladder is the animals that don’t feed us, the horses, dog and cats. They get the veggie peeling, bits of meat scraps left over, milk not saved for here in the house. Most farmers will tell you these kinds of animals are a waste or resources but I love our horses, they provide me with many hours of entertainment and company. The dog has a job too he lets us know when something isn’t right and is good company, not to mention one of my best friends. The cats have the job to keep the mice, squirrels. moles, snakes and chipmunks down. Some farms have a problem with rodents, I hardly ever see one and have never seen a rat around.

Lastly if there is any left they will go to the compost pile. Compost is good for our garden and helps the garden grow more food to feed our family. These are things like coffee grounds, old tea bags, orange peels. Mostly our compost is garden waste and lawn clippings the chickens or horses don’t eat. We don’t produce much compost this way the majority of our compost is composed horse & chicken manure, that we have plenty of :).

So I use the word ladder loosely. Food starts at the top to feed my family, then filters down to feed the animals that feed us then the animals that don’t feed us then the compost. Just the steps it all takes. This system can be applied in most homes and I wish more would use it.

This system can be used for just about anything if you take the time to stop and think about it. Reduce, reuse and recycle are new words and a new concept to some, but to others it has always been the way it is.


Posted on August 27, 2010, in Food Storage, Homesteading, In the House, Planning, The Barn. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi ~ That was a great post ! I’ve been doing this for the last few years. You’re right , my grandparents lived like this , it was a way of life to them and the world would be so much better , if we all lived this way again

    I’ve started a Saturday series called ” Share with Me Saturdays ” , this week I plan to share ways to reuse , reduce and recycle. I would love to share a link to this post , if it’s o.k. with you. Just leave me comment here , I’ll check back soon. Thanks !

  2. Loved your post and I am trying ever harder to make something from what I already had. I did notice that you put your orange peal into the compost,didn’t know if you knew , were aware of or had decided against making candied peal. I do this throughout the year and then have enough to contribute to the Christmas fruit cake I make each holiday season. I also save back 1pence 2 pence and 5 pence coins throughout the year and use those teemed with my store loyalty points I earn for each transaction to go towards Christmas treat food or any extras we would like.
    Thanks for sharing this good thought provoking post.

  3. I’ve started taking the peelings and such
    and putting in a jar for soup. I cooled
    radish tops in more water and decided
    to drink it because a lady who lived to be
    105 always drank the broth after cooking
    her vegetables. I noticed that the broth
    from cooking the radish tops taste really
    good and thought it might be good to use
    in a stock.

    I enjoyed your blog entry!

    Came by way of JoyceAnn’s @ Feather Spirits.

    God Bless You and Yours!!!

  4. Rachel,
    What a great idea. I will have to try the candied peal-that is something new to me. I’m off to find a recipe.

    You know there might be something to it. 🙂

    Kepp passing the word along…Sounds like an interesting topic I’ll stop over and check it out

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