No Food Goes To Waste

Food is a celebration at Ecole Claire Fontaine that we share through our lunches and snacks, and in our baking and Savors & Flavors classes.

squash      pouring-blender           string-squash     cake       blender       cake-pieces

The children experience new and familiar tastes, while learning to honor their food. Children are able to take only what they will eat, and then ask for more after they have finished, leaving no food to waste. If we have served ourselves and taken more than we are hungry for, we are sure to compost the leftovers. We compost the stems, ends and bits we cannot use. No part of the fruit or vegetable goes to waste. Composting helps our garden flourish, and teaches children about responsibility to their environment.

It is estimated that as much as half of all the food produced in the world ends up as waste every year. The environmental toll for throwing away so much uneaten food is also costly. We know that methane gas produced by food waste in landfills is one of the most harmful atmospheric pollutants. The EPA estimates 96 percent of wasted food ends up in landfills, and that there is more food waste in landfills than paper or plastic. So much of this waste could be prevented. While some large farms have been paid to destroy food when heavy production would cause prices to drop substantially, a United Nations Food & Agriculture 2013 report shows the link between how global food prices are set and the many tons of food we throw away.

Other food is destroyed because it is bruised, unattractive, not something we wish to eat. “Not beautiful” produce can be repurposed, cut/cubed/diced/sliced/pureed/sautéed… leading to fantastic and delicious creations. While many have undertaken such projects, National Geographic reported in March of this year that “if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world, after China and the U.S.”

This weekend the New York Times published an article highlighting the waste of the lovely pumpkins we carve for Halloween and then throw away. As many people throughout the world know, pumpkin is a fantastic food that can be baked, sautéed or steamed. Small pumpkins are delicious stuffed with Gruyère and kale. The children will be experimenting with pumpkin throughout the harvest season.

We have found that responsibility around food creates a more whole and directed child. Time spent around the table together enforces bonds and allows for moments of joy to be shared. Friends inspire one another to try new foods, with vegetables as a part of every meal. As tastes are acquired, the sooner the better that broccoli, carrots and kale take hold in the palate.

In our garden, through daily play and gardening classes, children have the opportunity to experience the time, space, water and work it takes to grow food. Our gardening students love to answer the question of, “What do we need to grow our own food?” There is frequently jumping up and down as the children answer with, “Seeds! Soil! Water! Sunshine… And love!”