There they sat, six or eight of them in a small bowl, wrinkled, bruised and sad. Unusable.
“Chickens?” my husband asked, pointing at them. A cloud of fruit flies arose at the disturbance.
I sighed heavily, a sense of failure coming over me.
“Yes,” I said. “Go ahead. Give ’em to the chickens.”
They were figs. Once plump, delicious figs. Now pitiful lumps of discards. According to the people who know these things, about 40 percent of the food in America is wasted. That’s a terrible statistic. And here I am, contributing to those sad numbers letting my own homegrown produce go past its prime. It’s not the first time, either. I routinely let stuff go bad. Those fresh tomatoes I crave all winter? Some of them, I am embarrassed to admit, turned to foul-smelling slime on my countertop this summer. I let a cup of muscadines go bad as well; precious muscadines rescued from the clutches of garden critters gone to waste. The list goes on.
I tell you, it makes it a lot harder for me to justify wanting more and more fruit trees and vines and garden space. If I can’t efficiently use all I grow now, why do I want to grow more?
What follows is a justification. Only you can tell me whether or not any of it holds water or if it is completely full of holes.
I think most of the waste around here is the drips and dabs problem.
What I mean is, when I get a large crop of something, I find a way to put it up all at once with minimal waste.
Four grocery sacks of apples? Apple butter, pie filling, frozen apples. No problem.
Two large boxes of plums? Done and done.
A bushel of tomatoes? Presto salsa.
But when I try to accumulate enough figs to make a fig tart at the rate of 1 1/2 figs per day, I fail.
What do I do with a teacup of muscadines? Nothing.
So, the answer isn’t less, it’s more.
Am I an American or what?
Seriously, though, does this make sense, or am I full of beans? Tell me the truth.