Just like the song says…everything old is new again. I suppose every generation thinks it at some point and often with an eye roll attached. That’s not to say there’s no innovation or new discovery, but some new ideas are really just repackaged innovations of a previous era.
If there’s a popular buzzword floating about, the concept may fall into this category. Think of the terms EcoFriendly, Free Range Parenting, Unschooling, Optics, Sourcing, Clean Eating, and Plant-Based Diet. I saw Michael Phelps on TV this morning telling me to turn the water off while I’m brushing my teeth to conserve water. My first thought was, who doesn’t do that? I also turn off the lights when I leave a room (or never turn them on during the day), keep the thermostat set below 68 in the winter, take warm rather than hot showers, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Conservation is just how I was raised.
One of the buzzwords in food right now is Upcycling. You may have heard the term in relation to old furniture and household goods that have been transformed and repurposed to make them relevant. In food, the term means cooking with food that would otherwise be discarded. That could mean “ugly” vegetables, fruit pulp, produce left in the field, food that ends up in dumpsters behind food distributors because use by dates are nearing, the woody tips of asparagus and mushrooms, broccoli or cauliflower stems, prepared coffee, the green tops of beets and carrots, etc.
While this concept has been popularized by chefs such as Massimo Bottura and Dan Barber, it’s not a new practice. In my family wasting edible food was a sacrilege. We would never have thought to draw attention to repurposing leftovers, using all parts of a vegetable, saving pot likker, or making preserves or pies out of bruised fruit. We never threw away the neck, liver, or gizzards from a chicken. Ugly tomatoes went in tomato juice.
Not only would we have felt bad about the money we were throwing away wasting food, we worked too hard on the farm and in the garden to throw away our sense of accomplishment. Even now I feel bad when I fail to water the mint soon enough and the plant dies. Mint is a luxury herb I can live without, but I still feel the loss as a personal failing.
If a new buzzword brings attention to food waste and helps people think differently, that’s a good thing. It’s just not a new thing. If food waste is an old thing that bothers you, I’d still recommend the movie “Just Eat It”. That recommendation is old too, I’m just upcycling the link for purposes of this post.
Soooo, I’m all for reducing, reusing, recycling, conserving, repurposing, and upcycling in an ecofriendly way. I’m not all that concerned how the choices I make look from the outside. Optics don’t tell the whole story; you can’t judge a book by its cover; you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors; they killed the electric car and now it’s back.
All I know is everything old is new again!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”