It's not garbage if you eat it. How I made a gourmet meal with food scraps.
True
Ad Council - Save The Food

I'm Heather. I'm a single woman living alone, and just like you, sometimes I buy too much food.

For the longest time, I didn't think much of it. I'd get overeager at the grocery store and come home with more food than I could eat or preserve. When some of it went bad, as food inevitably does, I threw it out.

Then I started learning more about climate change, pollution, and food waste. I discovered that my dirty little secret of throwing away food wasn't mine at all. Lots of us do it, and that's adding up in massive ways.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans wasted 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010 — about 30% of the national food supply.

That kind of waste affects many aspects of American life. 40% of all food in America never gets eaten, and the average American family of four loses $1,500 a year on wasted food, with each individual throwing away over 24 pounds of food per month. Food going to landfills could be provided to some of the millions of Americans with food insecurity; instead, along with yard waste, it accounts for 27% of waste products sent to city landfills. As it rots there, it creates methane, a dangerous driver of climate change.

You deserved better, food. Image via iStock.

I felt guilty but inspired. It was time to try and shrink my food footprint.

Over the last few months, I've become a lot more conscious of the amount of food I buy. I'm making weekly meal plans to ensure I'm not buying things I won't need. I've also started composting — and made many new fruit fly friends in the process.

But I knew I could do more. What about the bits of food that come with produce and meat I buy that inevitably end up in the compost or garbage? Shouldn't I be finding a use for them, too? According to this video from Save the Food, a campaign by the Ad Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to encourage Americans to reduce food waste in the U.S., that answer was definitely yes:

I decided to challenge myself. I'd cook a full meal of recipes based around the scraps of food I usually toss in the compost or the garbage. I'd try to use even the bits of food I wouldn't usually even consider food. I’d document my progress, feast on the fruits of my labor, and bring you, dear reader, along for the trip. Are you ready? Let’s ride.

Indeed it must. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

The soup course: Meat bones are the new black — er, broth.

If I were the good hipster my Tinder profile says I am, I’d be consuming bone broth regularly for its collagen-loving, immune-boosting health benefits. Plus, it’s a great way to get more use out of bones after a meal.

Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

These bones were left over from a rib dinner a few weeks ago — I stored them in the freezer in anticipation of this meal. After I thawed them out, they spent the night in a stock pot on low heat. In the morning I added some spices, celery, and onion and let it continue simmering. My apartment smelled amazing, and my cat was very confused.

Unfortunately, I forgot just how much of my broth I needed for my main course, and after it simmered down, I only had a tiny bowl's worth left for this course. Nonetheless, it was lovely, and I felt like a giant drinking it. If you want to try making a broth of your own from scratch, here's a tasty recipe for homemade chicken stock.

Spoon for scale! Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Food saved/reused: half pound of beef bones.

The salad course: Beet greens are also a food!

Before this meal, I’ve never intentionally or willingly eaten a beet green. Not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know I could. Turns out, I should have been doing this for a long time because beet greens have lots of vitamins and minerals — and they're pretty tasty too!

GIF via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Important note: If you’re going to eat beet greens, be sure to cook them first as they are surprisingly bitter in the raw. Some recipes recommend blanching, but I just gave them a quick sauté in olive oil, crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes for a warm green salad. It was absolutely delicious — like a denser, heavier version of cooked spinach. I'm already looking forward to having it again.

Food saved: one-quarter pound of beet greens.

The main course: Shrivel-y tubers still taste fantastic when cooked in a hearty stew.

I’ve only recently learned that my fridge drawers have special functions for keeping food at its utmost freshness. I’ve also started to embrace that not every perishable food needs to immediately go to the fridge. Unfortunately for a few sweet potatoes and a forgotten yam, those realizations came a little too late.

Fear not, squishy veggies: You shall rise again! Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

I looked online and found that these tough tubers, despite their depleted moisture content, were still perfectly safe to eat. Chopped up to supplement a big hearty beef stew, you’d hardly guess that they used to be the veggie equivalent of a fashion "don’t." (Another great way to use up vegetable scraps is to turn them into delicious veggie broth.)

This beef stew was a great solution for helping to empty my larder. To my thirsty tubers, I added some neglected celery and some heirloom carrots that had gone a wee bit rubbery with age. Once they were cooked up with some well-browned beef, most of my stock, and some spices, they helped make a delicious winter stew. Even though it took forever to cook (wherefore art thou, slow cooker?), it was rich, savory, and filling.

My inner hobbit was impressed with my culinary expertise. GIF via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Food saved: 1 pound of slightly shriveled yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots plus some orphan celery stalks and the beef stock from the soup course.

The dessert course: Ambrosia apples a la floor, then a la crumble.

Ambrosia apples are my candy; I would happily trade them for chocolate almost any day. So, when I brought home my bag of perfectly-selected ambrosias — and promptly spilled them all over the floor, I was pretty gutted. My gorgeous apples were very bruised with lots of soft spots. I needed to do something with them right away.

Fortunately, I had some almond flour and gluten-free oats in my pantry. Now, instead of an afternoon snack, my beloved ambrosia apples became the showpiece of a rare special dessert — a naturally-sweet gluten-free apple crumble.

This crumble was, dare I say, ambrosia. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

I’d originally planned on serving my crumble with some non-dairy "ice cream" made from pureed frozen bananas, but the ones in my pantry absolutely refused to go bad on time for this article. That said, if you have some less-than-impressive bananas in your pantry or on your counter, I strongly recommend you try the false ice cream on your own. It’s one ingredient, takes seconds to make, and will make any lactose intolerant person weep tears of non-dairy joy.

Food saved: three-quarters pound of life-changingly delicious ambrosia apples.

While a four-course meal isn't feasible every day, I know that some of the tricks I learned will become a regular part of my cooking routine.

Even though this challenge took quite a while — including prep and cleaning, about three hours — I was having so much fun that it kind of sped by. I watched old episodes of "Scandal" and "Last Week Tonight" while I chopped produce; my cats, Fezzik and Rupert, stayed off the counter for the entire evening; and I got to enjoy a really satisfying home-cooked meal that left me with plenty of freezable leftovers for future meals.

Even better, I helped keep about two and half pounds of food I would have considered scraps out of the landfill and compost.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. Should you do it, too? In the spirit of reuse, I'll say again: Absolutely.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves
True

It can be expensive to have a pet. It's possible to spend between $250 to $700 a year on food for a dog and around $120-$500 on food for a cat. But of course, most of us don't think twice about the expense: having a pet is worth it because of the company animals provide.

But for some, this expense is hard to keep up, no matter how much you adore your fur baby. And that's why Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves decided to help.

Kenneth had seen a man scraping together change in a store to buy pet food, so he offered to buy the man some extra pet food. Still, later that night he couldn't stop thinking about the experience — he worried the man wasn't just struggling to pay for pet food, but food for himself, too.

So he went home and told his wife — and immediately, they both knew they needed to do something. So, in December 2020, they converted a farm stand into a take-what-you-need, leave-what-you-can Pet Food pantry.

"A lot of people would have watched that man count out change to buy pet food. Some may have helped him out like my husband did," Jill says. "A few may have thought about it afterward. But, only someone like Kenny would turn that experience into what we have today."

"If it weren't for his generous spirit and his penchant for a plan, the pantry would never have been born," she adds.

A man with sunglasses hands a box of cat food to a woman smiling Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

At first, the couple started the pet food pantry with a couple hundred dollars of pet food they bought themselves. And to make sure people knew about the pantry, they set up a Facebook page for the pantry, then went to other Facebook groups, such as a "Buy Nothing group," and shared what they were doing.

"When we started, we weren't even sure people would use us," Jill says. "At best, we were hoping to be able to provide enough to help people get through the holidays."

But, thanks to their page and word of mouth, news spread about what they were doing, and the donations of more pet food started flooding in, too. Before long, they were coming home to stacks of food — and within a couple of months, the pantry was full.

Yellow post-it note with handwritten note that reads: "Hi, I read your story on Facebook. Here is a small donation to help. I have a 3-year-old yellow lab who I adore. I hope this helps someone in need. Merry Christmas. Meredith" Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"The pounds of food we have gone through is well, well, well into the thousands," Jill says. "The orders from our Amazon Wish List alone include several hundred pounds of dry food, a couple of hundred cases of canned food, and thousands of treats and toys. But, that does not even take into account the hundreds of drop-offs, online orders, and monetary donations we have received."

They also got many 'Thank you notes' from the people they helped.

"I would like to thank you for helping us feed our fur babies," one note read. "My husband and I recently lost our jobs, and my husband [will] hopefully [find] a new one. We are just waiting for a call."

Another read: "I just need to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I haven't worked in over a month with a two-year-old at home. Dad brings in about $300/week. From the pandemic to Christmas, it has been tough. But with the help of beautiful people like you, my fur baby can now eat a little bit longer, and my heart is happy."

Jill says that she thinks the fact that the pet pantry is a farm stand helps people feel better.

A woman holding a small black dog and looking at the camera is greeted by Jill Gonsalves Photo courtesy of Kenneth and Jill Gonsalves

"When we first started this, someone who visited us mentioned how it made them feel good to be able to browse without feeling like they were being watched," she says. "So, it's been important to us to maintain that integrity."

Jill and Kenneth aren't sure how many people they've helped so far, but they know that their pet food pantry is doing what they hoped it would. "The pet owners who visit us, much like donations, come in ebbs and flows," Jill says. "We have some regulars who have been with us since the beginning. We also have some people that come a few times, and we never see again."

"Our hope is that they used us while they were in a tough spot, but they don't need us anymore. In a funny way, the greatest thing would be if no one needed us anymore."


Today, the Acushnet Pet Pantry is still going strong, but its stock is running low. If you want to help out, visit their Facebook page for updates and to find ways to donate.
Canva

Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!