[Cross posted to my parenting blog Diary of a Daddy Dinosaur.]
Becky informed me this morning that the Graun are doing something called a food waste challenge in which readers attempt to reduce to zero the amount of food they throw away for a week. Great, I thought – I’ll show off how our baby (codename T Rex) generates loads of waste and what we do about it. Well, it didn’t go exactly as planned.
T Rex has been feeding using an approach slightly pretentiously referred to as “baby led weaning”. What this means is, we give him food – real food, not just purees – and he is left to eat it without prodding or assistance. T Rex has been doing this since Christmas, which was about a week before he turned 6 months old. (You’re supposed to wait for 6 months, but fuck that shit, right? It’s Christmas!)
Baby led weaning is fairly messy in the early days (I can’t really attest to whether it is more or less messy that purees, but let’s just say we usually change his clothes after a meal). Food is liberally scattered around, regurgitated, smeared over clothes, face, hair. So there’s vast potential for mess, and for waste.
T Rex has the usual defences against this stuff. He sits in a plastic Ikea high chair, which has an easily removable tray and is simple to wipe clean. He has the Boots scoop-style bib, which catches much of what he drops. Finally, we put a tablecloth down on the floor under his chair, which is the last line of defence, and which again can be easily wiped down after a meal.
Crucially for t’Graun’s challenge, this enables food recycling. If T Rex drops a load of food on the floor, it doesn’t fall onto dirty carpet or tiles. It lands on a (hopefully) freshly wiped tablecloth, or in his bib. We then scoop it up and put it back on his tray, where he enthusiastically has another go at it.
The next stage of food waste minimisation takes place after the meal is over, when we collect any uneaten food (seriously, you can’t expect an eight-month-old to eat every last bite, and as dedicated as we are to reducing waste, we’re not eating leftovers that have already been regurgitated twice) and put it in our hot composter. The hot composter is protected against rats and other vermin, and reaches high temperatures (supposedly… my moans about this will wait for another post) which break down any organic waste you put in, including meat and other cooked food.
Anyway, on this occasion T Rex was so enthusiastic about his tinned peaches and soured cream that there was almost nothing left for the composter. He has always been very into his food, but this is probably his best performance yet: half a tin of peaches and three tablespoons of soured cream and almost nothing to throw away. I think he probably deserves some kind of prize from the Graun. Anyway, what little remains will eventually go on our veg patch.