I love cooking and cooking has led to gardening, out of hating waste.
Most food waste in America happens in the private kitchen, I read somewhere.
Stores sell in bulk to make a profit and nucleus working families, for one
reason or another, cannot finish what they buy. In my house, fresh greens such
as cilantro, even bought in small packages, can end up half in the trash can.
This has been the cause of endless nagging frustration for me. I grew up in the
70s and 80s in rural and small-town northern China, you see. (From hindsight,
those were the best time to grow up in that corner of the world.) The
monumental disasters, natural or artificial, were over, but the fear of starving
and shortage was still fresh. We were taught by the examples of our elders to be
frugal. Wasting was not only a personal foible but a communal taboo.
America has been completely different. In the land of abundance and capitalism,
we are encouraged to constantly upgrade to keep up with the trend and to throw
old or not-so-old stuff away. If we miss out on the best, we are warned, that we
cannot be happy.
But my habits have deeper roots. Given the choice, I would prefer a clear conscience
to fleeting happiness fueled by brain chemicals. Throwing away half-eaten green
onions has never failed to invoke misgivings. And if that is not enough, while dumping
the vegetables going bad, I often have to shop for fresh ones in a hurry to make a
meal. Everytime, I was reminded that I could've done better.
Early May, hunting for sage for the Italian dish Salsiccie e Fagioli (sausage
and beans) and looking for ways to avoid gas after consuming it finally pushed
me over the edge: I need to raise herbs. I started with the common parsley and
sage and the not-so-common summer savory.
The sage came tiny but sturdy in a starter pot and settled comfortably in a
bigger container. Aphids did some damage to the leaves in the beginning but the
little plant has sucked it up and since grown over 10-fold. It was delightful to
see. My original plan for it was to supplement the store-bought dried sage but
now it seems I could use fresh leaves whenever I make that dish.
The slender flat-leaf parsley seemed to struggle a bit in its new home for the first
couple of weeks. Then it flourished. It invites me to cut while the stems are tender. I
have since made the tuna pasta sauce twice with my own parsley.
The savory came in as seeds (and they sold me 1000 of them). And not knowing
what I was doing, I sowed them all in three pots. Many sprouted but they seemed
to be fragile even after the initial stages. The promises are alluring, however:
not only the summer savory is going to put a stop to gas from eating beans, it
also is a natural aphrodisiac. We will see how that goes.
Next, I would try cilantro, green onion, and maybe even garlic. Thinking of
guacamole, creamy curry, and mapo tofu with my home-grown greens makes my
(Credits: I watched this before trying the sage
and this is the method I'm going to try with green onions