by Terrica Joy in

I'm on this kick lately.  It involves leaving ripe bananas in really bizarre locations.  

Let me explain...

You see, my Moma taught me to never, ever, under any circumstance throw perfectly good food away. And thanks to her wonderful, frugal teaching, today I have all sorts of complexes regarding the issue.  

I can hear her voice in my head every time I drag the trash can across the kitchen to clean out the fridge..."There are hungry animals in the yard that will eat that."

And every time I empty containers of leftovers down the disposal... "If you'd freeze that it wouldn't go bad and you'd have a perfectly fine meal later."

She even reprimands me for NOT cooking eggshells and returning them to her so she can feed them to her chickens.  Talk about recycling!  (It's so they don't lay soft, fragile case you're wondering about that weirdo statement.)    

At one point I kept all my used tea leaves and coffee grounds so she could spread them in the garden, but I stopped when they started to mold before I could get them to her.  Frugalism does have its limits, after all.

But the worst for me, the worst is when I toss out produce, the kind that's super-ripe but definitely still edible. I can see her silently shaking her head, a look of total disappointment scrawled across her face. If it were her, you see, she'd can it.  Or make some sort of jam or jelly out of it.  Or pickle it.  Or something.  At her very worst she'd feed it to her goats or pigs or dogs or whatever beast is roaming around in the yard.

But in the city I don't have goats or pigs.  And I'm too lazy to jam or jelly or can or pickle for the sake of saving produce.  However still totally convicted by my mother's ever-resounding-inside-my-head-principle, I've finally discovered my own solution:  

I leave things on the sidewalk.  (If you could see me right now I'd be grinning ear to ear, beaming with pride at my genius-ness!)


You think I'm kidding.  I'm not. It all started one night because I had this gigantic bowl of perfect apples and oranges that were sure to go bad when Josh and I left town for several days.  I kept racking my brain trying to figure out who to give them to, when suddenly it dawned on me!  So many homeless and hungry people criss-cross over Swiss Ave on a daily basis, why not leave them on the street??  So I piled them all in a bag and crept downstairs, let myself out the gate, and plopped them just off the sidewalk to avoid tripping anyone. I rolled the sides of the bag down to showcase the little beauties and dashed contentedly back inside.  Within a few hours, they were gone!  It was like a magic trick!  I bragged and bragged about my genius-ness to Josh.  He feigned enthusiasm.

But ever since that night, whenever I'm standing over the garbage can with a couple of ripe bananas, I just can't do it.  I can't throw them away. Someone could eat these.  A little homeless man would be delighted to find a ripe banana on the sidewalk, I think to myself.  Or maybe the hard working woman who's been on her feet for 12 hours but still has to walk 10 blocks home.  Wouldn't she be happy to find a free snack on her little commute?  That might make her evening!

So I creep down the back steps, slip thru the gate, make sure no one is watching, and play fruit Santa! Like magic they always disappear, sometimes within minutes.  

I admit I get a kick out of it, watching the fruit disappear, wondering who's picking it up and what must be going thru their heads.  Can't you imagine how funny that must be??  Walking along and suddenly there's groceries on the sidewalk!  I bet they look around confused, wondering if it's a joke.  

But I have to be blatantly honest.  It has absolutely nothing to do with good will or feeding the hungry. It's entirely about silencing the Jiminy Cricket voice inside my head, the one who sounds exactly like my mother.  

If my intention were to feed the hungry, I'd feel like crap for giving them leftovers.  This is not about that. This is simply avoiding wastefulness.  It isn't about anyone else, it's about me--let's just put that right out there lest anyone accuse me of thinking myself the Mother Teresa of random sidewalk produce.  

Point and case: Last week our friend Aaron was in town, lamenting over the chicken sandwich he'd brought with him from Philly the day before.  He was too nervous to eat it but said he wanted to feed it to a stray dog.  (He obviously has a complex too, growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia.)  I immediately piped up, "Oh!  Leave it on the sidewalk!  I do it all the time.  Someone will eat it!"

He looked at me disgusted, "Terrica, it's chicken.  I don't want to make some little homeless guy sick! I am not leaving it on the sidewalk."

I slumped against the counter, defeated.  "Oh, I guess you're right...that would be cruel."

Frugalism does have limits, after all.  

But I think my Moma would be proud.  Or perhaps simply not disappointed.  At the very least, she'd get it kick out of my nonsense.  And I rejoice that I have effectively silenced Jiminy Cricket.  Though unconventional, mission accomplished. ;-)

C'mon, I know you do something crazy, too!  To save money?  To avoid waste?  Tell me about it!