We Americans waste food -- and lots of it. A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council's food and agriculture program determined that Americans discard 40 percent of the food supply every year, and the average American family of four annually throws away an equivalent of up to $2,275 in food. That's a fat chunk of couch change.
Americans need to cut the fat by becoming more conscious of what they waste; smaller portions -- yeah, I said it -- would lighten the landfills and plump up wallets. Still, there are a few eats and drinks that are definitely acceptable to toss on the trash heap. Here's a list of five (and if you are curious, Twinkies would be number six).
5. Oreo cookies.
An Oreo consists of two inflexible, stale discs held together with a sandy, lardy, not-liquid, not-solid concoction that leaves a film on your teeth like you just licked the inside of a child's shoe. Dunking it in milk only pollutes the delicious moo juice with dark, crinkly particles that collect at the bottom of the glass like lice on a patch of filthy, matted hair. And somehow, these cookies are everywhere -- and never seem to spoil. You could zap these things with gamma rays and it would have no effect. Simply throwing these cookies away may be a real waste; they should be used to pave streets, build bridges or knock home intruders unconscious.
"Seven delicious vegetables in a light onion broth" is how the makers of Veg-all describe their product of chopped potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots, lima beans, corn and celery, all crammed into the same can. But if vegetables had crotches and armpits, I'd rather eat those then open a can of Veg-all. These sad, salty vegetable nubbins aren't quite raw and aren't really cooked; they are marinated in murky, fart-smelling brine -- probably thanks to the limas -- and they can ruin a soup or a casserole faster than Lipton onion soup mix.
3. Folger's coffee.
The nicest thing I can think to say about Folger's coffee is that it smells and tastes like boiled carrots. Not lovely, seasoned, buttered carrots, but dirty, fusty just-going-off carrots boiled in water. And, contrary to popular belief, giving this inferior, badly-roasted coffee bean muck a wash with French vanilla flavoring does not improve the coffee in the slightest. You have a patriotic obligation to waste the hell out of this coffee, so that you can save others from breathing its filthy fumes on you.
This side dish -- or if you are a single, heterosexual male, this entrée -- consists of dried instant rice, arid noodle bits and weird, greasy bouillon with enough concentrated sodium in it to murder a team of sled-dogs. Single men: I get that this is your bachelor chow, but go ahead and toss it in the trash. While that act might result in short-term starvation, the long-term benefits include lower blood pressure and the increased possibility that one day you will actually eat a vegetable.
1. Chex Mix.
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This time-honored snack mix began so sweetly, with buttered, garlic-ed Chex cereals baked and served at Christmastime in fancy, cut-glass bowls. But over the decades it had mutated into ready-made bags containing crunchy, broken cereal dust caked with day-glo, cheesy garlic salt and studded with such weird add-ins as pretzels, M&Ms, chicken bones, car keys and possibly fried gnome genitals. It's not just okay to waste this stuff -- it's a moral obligation. Waste away, because getting rid of these mutants is the only way we can restore the oven-made mix into its proper place in American holiday culture.