I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.


I knew that my mother would be appalled. She would never have done such a thing. Never.

IMG_2100[1]I looked at the carrots resting on the top of my compost heap and felt a little ashamed. I could grab them off, I thought, and wash them. I could just cut the bad ends off.

My mother was of the waste-not-want-not generation.  It didn’t matter that my father was a physician and had a healthy income and stable job.

She taught me to wipe out the inside of egg shells to get every last bit of white that might remain. “Why waste it?” she would say when I questioned her about it, especially after I found out that nobody else practiced that same frugality.

We would gather all the apples from the apple trees, both the ones that ripened on the branches and the ones that fell to the ground.  The “drops,” as my mother called them, were wormy and disgusting.  She would sit in the evenings, though, and patiently cut away the bad spots (which often made up more than half of the piece of fruit), peel what was left, and throw it into a pot to make apple sauce.  Or apple pie.  Or apple walnut cake.

We were like all the farmyard animals that wouldn’t help the little red hen.  We liked to enjoy the rewards, but not the labor.

Our entry way would be lined with tomatoes at varying stages of ripeness.  No tomato deserved to be summarily dismissed to the compost heap.  Each would be inspected for usable parts.

No, my mother would never have thrown away carrots that were mostly perfectly good.

When Grace pulled them out of the refrigerator, she said, “Ewwwwww!” She held them disdainfully away from herself and towards me. The black slime seemed to be the only thing we could see in the bag, which was nearly full of whole carrots, not the baby ones.

“No worries,” I said, “I’ll just take it to the compost. I have some potatoes that need to go down there, too.”

I had discovered the potatoes just an hour or so before.  The stench of rotting potatoes has to be one of the worst in the world.  I had smelled them in the cellar, and then picked up the bag to see partially liquefied potatoes at the bottom.

Sadly, when I dumped both the carrots and the potatoes onto the compost, I saw lots of usable produce gone to waste.

I knew my mother would not approve.

I threw away some perfectly good food.

That, my friend, is luxury.

But it’s a luxury I shouldn’t take.



8 comments on “Luxury

  1. Pingback: Luxuries, who needs ‘em? | A mom's blog

  2. catterel
    September 7, 2013

    Had to smile – my Mom is the same (and she’s still here, keeping an eye on what I throw out!). At least you have a compost heap, so nothing is really wasted. Or maybe you should keep a pig??

    • sarahlangdon
      September 7, 2013

      A pig might cause a bit of a stir with my neighbors. If rotting potatoes smell bad, a pig is even worse.

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Luxurious | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  4. happyflowerwordzoo002
    September 7, 2013

    This made me recall my own wastefulness. Excellent post. Thank-you for reminder of how my parents/grandparents raised us to respect food, to cut away the ‘bad’ parts of an apple for pie/sauce.

    • sarahlangdon
      September 8, 2013

      Yes, it is a respect that we’ve forgotten because we have so much. Sometimes more isn’t better. Besides, I think some of the best applesauce I ever had was made from those bits and pieces of a number of varieties of apple.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. catterel
    September 8, 2013

    … and today, we had cabbage given us by a neighbour from his garden, with an apology because it had split. I had to cut a large part of it away (compost again!) but the rest was delicious (not often I say that about cabbage 🙂 ) and thought of YOU, Sarah!

    • sarahlangdon
      September 8, 2013

      You thought of me and cabbage in the same thought? I’m not sure how I feel about that…. 🙂

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