Last weekend I sent out what I thought was an innocent little tweet:
Oh, it’s the middle of the day on a Saturday, I thought. No one will pay attention.
But it got a BIG response, including its own hashtag, #keepthestash:
Now, my first reaction was to
- Clarify that it was really my doing and that I don't know why I brought my boyfriend into it
- Get defensive and tell everyone that I was tossing Green & Blacks and Scharffen Berger that had been sitting in my cabinet for three years, as well as some samples from new makers that, well, weren’t so enjoyable. I’d been hoarding it for all this time, planning to make cookies, drinking chocolate, and so on, but there are only so many calories in a day. Then there were about 10 packages with one or two squares left in them, which I’ve kept to taste and retaste. I’m almost afraid to finish a bar, especially a really, really good one. Tiny morsels of Soma, Rogue, and Patric fill my cabinets. On Saturday I bit the bullet — well, actually the chocolate bar — and polished them off.
I then had to clear out a massive drawer in my closet to stash all of the chocolate, since it had taken over the kitchen and part of the office and needed to be relocated. (I won’t even get into how many empty packages I have laying around, a collection that I plan to keep forever to remind myself what bars I’ve tried and also the ridiculous volume of chocolate that I’ve eaten over the years.) The stuff I couldn’t keep was repurposed, mostly given to some very lucky neighbors.
This exercise as well as the reaction on Twitter made me realize how much food waste is not part of the conversation — and how much it should be. When I reviewed restaurants for places like Texas Monthly and Zagat Austin, I would wince every time chefs sent out 10 dishes for just a friend and me, knowing we couldn’t finish everything. Sure, it’s a fabulous lifestyle, but it’s also super wasteful. The entire food industry perpetuates this status quo, and it can be shocking to people who aren’t part of that world.
In the case of those chocolate bars, farmers took a lot of care with those beans. They were then shipped across the world to be treated lovingly by a craft maker, who then sent them to a store or to me directly. That’s a lot of time, energy, manpower, and carbon footprint to simply throw away. But chocolate makers as well as people in the industry and even good old chocolate-obsessed folks do it all the time. Is it part of the process, or a waste? What do you do with your leftover chocolate?