Leftover History or the History of Leftovers

Thanksgiving-LeftoversLeftovers are a part of our culture and certainly part of our meal plan.  For sure, they’re part of the tradition of Thanksgiving where we intentionally prepare too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and pies so that our guests can depart with a bag of goodies, and everyone in the household can eat turkey sandwiches with lots of Mayo.

But how did this all come to pass? Certainly, in the days of yore, our caveman relatives discovered that the bounty of the hunt could last longer if the leftovers where stored in a dark, cool place – like a cave.  The ancient Greeks and Romans actually hauled snow and ice down from the mountains and used it to save as much of their fall harvested foods for the winter.  But that was then and this is now so let’s skip a few thousand years to the late 19th century when the iceman was as frequent a visitor in American homes as the milkman. The iceman would drop-off large cubes of ice that homeowners would place in their “icebox” usually made of wood and lined with tin. And this, ladies and gentlemen, was really the beginning of leftovers as we know them today.

Of course, there were many inventions and milestones thereafter that contributed to our culture of leftovers like the invention by Dupont of the coolant Freon, the Great Depression when it was unimaginable to throw-away even a morsel of food, and let us not forget Earl S. Tupper of Tupperware fame, and the invention of Saran Wrap and Ziplock storage bags by Dow Chemical. All of this contributed to the ease and simplicity of saving leftovers; and with the introduction of the Microwave Oven in the 1970s, the ease of eating leftovers took on a whole, new meaning.

Eating leftovers is a great way to feed your family. Tossing uneaten food in the trash impacts your pocketbook, and doesn’t set a very good example for your children who, should understand, that by the end of this century, we might have another 3 billion mouths to feed. In a recent report titled Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not, it was determined that up to 50% of all food either never makes it onto a plate or is thrown in the garbage. So, let’s be a little more mindful before we start ditching the delicacies, and remember, long live the leftover. And here are a few recipes to help:





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