Saturday, 24 November 2018

Watch the pennies.

Joanne (Cup on the bus on my side bar) has written such an interesting post today talking of how her parents were frugal and how she was brought up not to waste anything.  That is exactly how I was brought up too, in an age where there was enough money in our family to live comfortably, to make ends meet, to never get into debt and to afford little luxuries like a week's holiday every 'trip week', but only because my mother was a very careful manager.

Tinned food was frowned upon, but my mother always kept a tin of red salmon (never pink salmon), a tin of peaches and a tin of evaporated milk in the cupboard so that if visitors called unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon she could always find something for tea.   There would always be cake in any case as she never bought cake but made her own (and bread) so that  this was plentiful.

 Nothing was ever wasted.   A bit of stale bread in the breadbin would mean a bread and butter pudding the next day and if the milk went 'off' on a thundery day then it would be left to form curds and then dripped through a piece of muslin hung on the washing line, seasoned with pepper and chopped parsley from the garden and we would have it in sandwiches for tea.   The remains of the Sunday joint would be cold on Monday with left over potatoes fried, minced for shepherd;s pie on Tuesday and hopefully enough left for Wednesday too.   There was never any disgrace in doing this.   The disgrace was in wasting the food.

We never had a freezer, not even a fridge that I remember.   We had a meat safe  on the North wall of our stone-floored pantry.

Of course the advent of these mod cons has meant that food can be stored so much easier but we read of the 2 for 1 offers not being used and one of them ending up in landfill.  So I can but ask what has happened to our society that, when half the world doesn't have enough to eat, we waste so much food?

28 comments:

angryparsnip said...

I was raised with no waste. Mum shopped bargains and we made do with what we had. I try not to throw food away and use what I have. I do not over buy. Or if so It goes into the freezer for later. Now that Fall Is here It is soup making time.
What bothers me is I see crops being dumped because they are not pretty perfect ! What a waste.

cheers, parsnip and badger

justjill said...

When they stopped teaching home economics in school. That was one reason. The other was people moving. No longer round the corner from Mum or Aunty to be taught these things. SAD.

the veg artist said...

We never throw food away. I keep a 'larder' cupboard, plan my meals a week in advance so one shop covers everything. Veg peelings, egg shells etc go into the compost - we then use this compost on the veg beds and in pots in the greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers and extra spuds in large tubs. This is just commonsense for us, but it saves a lot of money too. Most people have no idea how wasteful they are; as you say, shameful, when half the world does not have enough to eat.

Rachel Phillips said...

What happened? Everybody got better off. That's what happened.

busybusybeejay said...

We still have a meat joint on Sunday,have it cold on a Monday and on Tuesday usually a stir fry.Am I really old fashioned?I view it as cooking Sunday,dead easy Monday and Tuesday!!!!

Heather said...

I was brought up in much the same way and to me, wasting food is shameful. I grew up with food rationing so there was little to waste and those years taught good household management skills. When I see the vast amount of food of every kind in our supermarkets I wonder if it will all be sold. We have so much - too much, while others have not enough. We seem to have lost a sense of proportion.

wherethejourneytakesme said...

I think the change over from shopping daily and at corner shops to doing a bulk load once a week in a supermarket must be one of the main reasons for waste. My mum shopped everyday as did my gran and great gran before her as there were no easy ways like a fridge to store food and keep it fresh so it was eaten and then you bought fresh the next day and used up leftovers quickly. There was not the variety either and most meals of the week followed a pattern ending with a Ham salad tea on Sunday and trifle if you could afford - plain jelly and custard maybe with tinned fruit if not. Simple days.

Tom Stephenson said...

Rachel - yes, everyone got better off but poverty is relative. There are hungry families who can afford empty fridges in this country, and no matter the reason, this is the reality.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I was raised in a similar manner as Joanne. My parents, who lived through the depression and the rationing of food during WWII, believed that waste was a sin. They would make me sit at the table and eat everything that was served. I remember sitting there for long spaces of time. Then we got a dog and if it wasn’t for him hiding under the table at dinner time, I would have never gotten to bed.

Last year, the Governor of California put through a law that said that food stores and restaurants could no longer throw out their extra food but had to donate it to shelters, food banks, and farmers for their animals. It is a great idea, but I wonder if they all comply.

Red said...

Before freezers and refrigerators we knew how to handle food so that it was safe and not wasted. Sometime after 1952 we got electricity and a refrigerator and freezer. Sad that so much food is wasted.

Joanne Noragon said...

I forgot ration books!, and the time my mother lost hers, in the store, no less. I don't really understand what Tom is saying; I wish I did. I think we weren't all that carefree as children, sitting like Arlene at the table until we cleaned our plates. It became the way we raised our children, who then vowed never to raise their children like that, and so it went, until we reached the current state of generally having too little time for anything.

Bea said...

I recall visiting Germany when I was a student back in 1994. I had purchased a fish sandwich at one of the chain food shops that dot seemingly every pedestrian zone up north. Unbeknown to me, the fish had turned, unfortunately. There in the pedestrian zone I took my first bite, then promptly spat it into my hand. As I was discreetly, or so I thought, putting the rotten sandwich into the bin, a woman who appeared to be in her 80s, began reading me the riot act about wasting food. Given that she'd lived through severely lean years in Germany, I felt ashamed, but that sandwich had truly turned.

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Virginia said...

I agree that the "2 for 1" offers can encourage over purchasing and then waste, but they must help larger families manage. Because we're a Derby and Joan now I often cook enough for three meals, and freeze two. The important bit is to have a list of what's in the freezer... and to be able to find it because I wrote a label for the package!

Cro Magnon said...

I was brought-up in a very similar way; even down to the cream cheese. My family were reasonably affluent, but the idea of waste was still alien. Also there was almost no rubbish, any veg' scraps went either to the hens or the compost. Milk bottles went back to the milkman.

Derek Faulkner said...

Most of us older people can cite examples of family poverty or budgetry tightness such as have already been given but I think Rachel got it dead right in her brief comment - we got better off and could afford to waste food, food stopped being a luxury.

Librarian said...

I am "only" 50, so was born long after both wars, but my parents made sure we learn the value of food. Wasting food comes next to a sin in my book - the concept alone of "sin" is alien to most people today, as "anything goes" in our modern society, it seems.
Only in recent years have I become relatively well-off; before that, I worked for a pittance (and completely under-estimated my own value on the job market for many years). Now that I have more money to play with, I still don't overshop. One reason is that I carry all my shopping home on foot. That puts a reasonable limit to the amount of "stuff" I get, also that I have only a smallish fridge with a freezer compartment. During the week, I do not cook, as I have hot meals at my clients' canteens. On the weekends I spend at home, I love cooking for OK (and maybe other guests), but those meals are planned, and any leftovers are handled sensibly. On the weekends I spend at OK's, he does the cooking or we do it together; again, leftovers are dealt with during the week.
Food waste is a big issue here in Germany, there are several initiatives such as food banks and the charity groceries shops where my Dad works.

Dave said...

I'm 70 and all this rings true to me. We did exactly the same. The only food waste we have is peelings etc which can be composted. We can always concoct a recipe with leftovers too and unfortunately this is something many youngsters today dont know how to. Its a pity that home economics is no longer on the school syllabus and I have often thought that learning to selectively buy ingredients and cook basic meals should be taught in schools.

thelma said...

I remember when I was small the rations cards my nana had, the smell of gone off fish in the market but at home we lived fairly well. Why? because my grandfather knew how to cook (there was no grandmother). Have you ever seen a pigs head boiled for brawn? or real faggots with caul round, liver and kidneys cooked or pigs trotters in a green pea soup. Then there was the weekend shooting and fishing in Wales, which brought home rabbit, salmon and trout every now and then.
I remember him saying that he had even eaten cat in Holland, take it's head off and you wouldn't know the difference from rabbit. No wonder I'm mostly vegetarian!....

Gwil W said...

Somebody calculated that if we would all be satisfied with the standard of living we had in the 1960s there would only need one planet to sustain us rather than three and a half. That's to say the world will not sustain the current level of resources. Stephen Hawking wrote that we have only 100 years left on this planet.
A woman on the radio this morning spoke of living next to a shed containing 40,000 chickens. I'd add that these animal factories, and there are many, feed their animals on gm modified soya from Brazil (chicken portions currently 3 euro 29 cents per KILO at one supermarket chain) but they don't tell you this on the packaging.
Another thing I don't like is live animals being transported thousands of kilometers across Europe by road through all kinds of weather, traffic jams, diiesel pollution and so on. There's only a fuss when there's an accident and the pigs or chickens or whatever that aren't killed in the accident are out and running all over the autobahn. Then they have to kill them because the stress hormone released makes the meat unfit for human consumption.
I could go on but I won't. An important issue you raised. It won't go away anytime soon. How we treat our animals is a reflection of our humanity.

Tom Stephenson said...

The post war generation was brought up to think of food waste as a crime, but the next generation take sell-by dates as the gospel truth, whereas the supermarkets are trying to avoid litigation over food poisoning.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

My parents were both born in 1928, and my entire childhood involved leftovers in recycled margarine tubs in the fridge. You had to open a lot of lids before you found what you were looking for. My father could fix almost anything. If something broke, it was fixed, not thrown out and a new one purchased. My parents purchased used vehicles (which my father maintained), used furniture (from "GOOD HOMES"), used appliances... Even though I have a career which pays me "well", relatively speaking, I still find it difficult to spend money on myself, on travel, and debt bothers me a great deal. -Jenn

The Weaver of Grass said...

Gwil's reply gives much food for thought I think. Thanks to everyone for joining in the debate.

Anonymous said...

Tom Stephenson, I can't reply directly but I was born in 1964 and food waste is a crime to me. Sell by dates and best before / use by dates are rubbish. As far as I'm concerned, if it looks ok and smells ok it gets eaten in my house. In fact I made pizzas with mozzarella that was one month out of date yesterday. Absolutely no food gets wasted here - I use my parents mentality ( born in 1933 ). I'm also with coffeeontheporch - everything gets repaired and we buy used cars, and furniture. Debt frighten the hell out of me. I've worked for my company for 25 years and have been given £200 to spend on me and I'm struggling to do that.

Jan Stewart said...

I don't usually comment but regularly read your posts with huge interest. My mother always had a tin of red salmon, tin of peaches and evaporated milk in the pantry. In fact as long as she had a kitchen of her own (before a short time in a care home) she still had those items. We moved into her home (a dormer bungalow) some 25 years ago and upstairs in a cupboard in the eves were many tins of red salmon and other canned goods, jars of coffee and sugar.

My husband died just five weeks ago and as I am disabled, I need to move into sheltered accommodation nearer to my son, his partner and my baby grandson. Tim was sorting out upstairs and came down with a smile on his face saying "dad was still storing tins upstairs". Although my husband was only 65, he grew up with his mother storing tins of food, and we obviously have kept the tradition alive - even though we preferred fresh salmon to tinned etc! Some things just stay with us forever.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jan - I am so sorry to hear about your husband.I lost my husband eighteen months ago and I still miss him every day - blogging helps and has made me so many new friends.

Yes, Rachel, the lucky ones amongst us at last have what these days is called 'disposable income' and we don't have to watch every penny. But I am sure there are still many people on the bread line or below it and I suppose it will always be so. Also I think education is needed to help to show people how to dispose of their income wisely .

Rachel Phillips said...

People were once poor in material things but saw the value of education and what achievement could bring.

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