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New year, new plate

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Photo by Emma Sharp

Buy local produce whenever possible.

Emma Sharp, Contributor

Driving back to Kingston last weekend, I could not help but notice that the price of gasolene and diesel had gone up overnight. It didn't click right away, but after about half an hour, it hit me. Of course ... general consumption tax had gone up on the first day of January!

What might look like a one per cent increase, is really a rise of six per cent. That's a whole load of money, when you think about how many things you pay tax on. I began to reflect on the vacation I had spent, and thought about all the wasted food. I don't care who you are, or how much extra cash you might think you have, no one can afford to waste anything, let alone the things that nourish us!

A year and a half ago, I wrote an article entitled 'What a Waste of Food', which touched on this subject, and offered tips for what to do with leftovers. Now I'm just plain mad that so few people have not given it a second thought. I am distressed that common sense has not kicked in yet. Have you not yet realised that there is a financial crisis going on around the world? Has it not occurred to you that eating is the one activity we all must partake in? Don't you see that any way you look at it, dollars are needed to buy food? Sure, some food items are still exempt from tax, but the people selling these are not exempt from paying for their light and water.

Last month I was speaking to a restaurateur about their prices. I was informed that to avoid jacking them up, they have adopted a strict portion control policy in their kitchen. She felt it was a better option for her customers to give each person a slightly smaller portion, and inevitably this would help in preventing waste.

Makes complete sense

This makes complete sense, and I hope that all eateries will consider this strategy in the upcoming times of financial difficulty. Eating out is a pleasure for many, so don't make it an impossibility.

That being said, those who do dine out regularly, will find that it is more economic to eat meals at home. This requires a fair amount of planning. Sure, you don't want to sacrifice the joy of impulsive arrangements, but work out how many breakfasts and dinners, and even lunches (if you are able), you and your family will be eating at your dining table for the week. How many of you live in the house? Write down a menu, have a look to see what you already have in your fridge, freezer and cupboards, and then make a shopping list of the rest of the ingredients you will have to get from the market or supermarket. Make an effort to stick to local products whenever possible, especially when it comes to snacks. Trust me when I tell you that local items such as banana chips are nicer than the foreign potato equivalent! And try not to stray from said list, because this is a sure way of getting an unpleasant surprise at the cash register!

Once you have brought your provisions home, store everything in an orderly fashion. You don't want to 'lose' fresh fruit and vegetables at the back of your fridge behind the jars of jam. If you do have any leftovers, and you do not plan to eat them the next day, put them in the freezer. If you don't have the latter, then, as a new year's gesture, why don't you share the platter with a neighbour!