It was just a month ago that we were in a standoff with a fruitcake. The longer I stared at the massive brick of candied fruit trying to figure out its fate, the more certain I became that we could use it as a doorstop or slice it into drink coasters or use it as a fireplace log. All I knew for sure was that we were not going to waste it. After much debate, we ended up cutting it into small pieces and serving it in our wildlife cafe. The squirrels were particularly happy to try it. It did have fruit and nuts in it, after all.
With the fruitcake gone, I thought we were finished with baked goods for a while…at least inedible ones. Turns out that wasn’t the case. We now have 28 unbaked cookies awaiting trial in the freezer. Why? Because they are NASTY!
On Sunday, we had this bright idea to make cookie dough and freeze it so we could just pop a few cookies in the oven when we wanted them and call it good. The idea itself was a pretty good one. The recipe we used, however, was not. It called for oats, flour, stevia, unsalted butter, and chocolate chips…all the right ingredients for a good chocolate chip cookie. Except that these cookies were terrible. They were not sweet at all (too little stevia) and the sugar-free chocolate chips made my stomach hurt in ways I don’t dare describe.
Once again, we find ourselves facing the dilemma of what to do with unwanted, and in this case inedible, food. Unlike the fruitcake, which was made with mostly all-natural ingredients (just combined in very unnatural way), the chocolate chips in the cookies contained maltitol, a sugar alcohol/artificial sweetener. Anything that makes a human’s stomach feel like an active volcano can’t possibly be good for wildlife and should we really be putting chemicals in our compost?
We purchased the sugar-free chocolate chips right after Thanksgiving…before we watched Fed Up on Netflix (and a segment on The Doctors about artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols). Yes, we already knew that sugar-free items are often higher in fat, but we thought one bag of sugar-free chocolate chips in an otherwise healthy diet wouldn’t make that much difference.
We baked 3 cookies apiece and after 2 bites knew we had made a mistake. Yet, because we didn’t want to waste them, we ate the bland, tasteless, laxative cookies anyway. Between clutching my stomach and guzzling water, I managed to Google “maltitol”. University Health News says maltitol is “considered non-digestible” and “associated with a variety of digestive disturbances”. Boy do I wish I’d read that first!
So now what do we do with the cookies? We can’t in good conscience serve them to the squirrels. Animals aren’t supposed to have chocolate, much less artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. Some of those sweeteners (like xylitol) are actually poisonous to animals. We can’t compost them because we don’t want to pollute our compost. We have no choice, we have to toss them.
The lesson learned here – to quote Michael Pollan – avoid foods pretending to be something they are not. Sugar-free chocolate chips are a clear violation of this Food Rule (and several others too) and we should know better. The consequence of our actions this week – 1.5 pounds of food waste. Ugh!!
Food Waste Update
- Wasted Food this week: 29 ounces
- Total Wasted Food in 2018: 38 ounces
- Rescued Food this week: 15.58 US pounds
- Total Food Rescued this year: 98.92 US pounds
Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.