The Refrigerator: Half Empty or Half Full?

A month ago, I spent a Saturday afternoon cleaning out my refrigerator. After discarding the science experiments and other unidentified food objects, I wiped the shelves clean. The only thing left in the refrigerator was the light bulb and its bright reflection on the empty shelves. I started at the blank space and I vowed not to waste food…again. I knew the first step in not wasting food was to not to buy too much of it. In October 2017, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reported more than two-thirds of all food discarded in people’s homes in three major U.S. cities was potentially edible. It is a sobering statistic. We currently live in a world where food is thrown away while people are hungry. This time, I asked myself, “What do I really need?” 

My grocery list included fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. I took a page out of Europe's book and bought just enough for the week. As I placed my groceries in the refrigerator, I noticed the negative space between the eggs, grapes and mixed greens. I could see the celery and asparagus in the vegetable drawer. I could see the half lemon. I could see the wedge of blue cheese. Combined with pantry items and my endless supply of Nespresso pods, I had more food and drink than I needed to sustain myself. 

My new perspective made me rethink what the inside of a refrigerator looks like. For me, a packed refrigerator no longer brought peace of mind; it meant waste. My newfound simplicity invited me to consciously create dishes and savor them with all my senses. The negative spaces in my refrigerator were just what I needed to strike the balance between necessity and culinary creativity.