November 26, 2012
Well, the big day of giving thanks is over, my friends. The turkey carcass is picked clean, the ham bone is all that’s left of that glorious mound of glistening pork, and the casseroles look ravaged and depleted. The food that remains, if any, should probably be thrown out sometime in the next day or two, according to the Surgeon General and the CDC. But what do they know?
For whatever reason, I have a very hard time throwing food in the trash. It just feels wrong to me. Maybe it’s because both of my parents grew up during the Great Depression. My mom stockpiled food as though she were preparing for Y2K – back in the 1970s. When I was a kid, our basement shelves were stocked three-deep with jars of homemade jellies, pickles, home-canned tomatoes and green beans. We had not one but two chest freezers packed to the hilt with everything from breads to meats. In other words, both of my parents had known true hunger early on in their lives, and they never forgot what it felt like.
I, on the other hand, do not have that excuse for having this weird problem with throwing food away. I have never known hunger, thank the Good Lord. Still, when I get back home today, it will be my job to clean out all the refrigerated leftovers in preparation for this week’s trash day. I’m getting knots in my stomach just writing about it. Even though I know it’s time, even though I know that there are likely wicked little bacteria taking hold and growing in what’s left of the pan of cornbread dressing, I’ll still feel a pang of guilt when I pitch the dressing and all its cousins in the trash.
Since I’m on a roll (so to speak), I’ll share an embarrassing little tidbit with you: my food hang ups run so deep that I used to feed as much of the holiday leftovers (the safe stuff, anyway) as possible to our dogs, just to know that someone or something ate it. How sick is that? One of our dogs, already a member of the Big and Chunky Club without my help, was put on a strict fitness and nutrition regimen as a direct result of my difficulty.
Oh well, I’m past all that. Mostly. The dogs are now in pretty good shape, and our family is, for the most part, fitness-conscious, so there’s no one else on whom to foist the leftovers and ease my conscience. It’s time to bury the remains of the feast.
Unless … does microwaving food kill the bacteria?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of two books: “Southern Fried White Trash” and her newest, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear” (released October 15). She is also a regular weekly guest on FOX News Radio station WYXC 1270 AM on Wednesdays during the Live Drive at 5. Townsend has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 Television News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. She currently travels throughout the southeast, meeting readers at book signings and speaking publicly at various events.