Woof’s Up Doc?

Old Dog Demands New Tricks…

During the summer, food waste vies for one of my top 5 weekly challenges. What I’ve grown, what I’ve purchased, what I’ve received in my weekly vegetable share all amount to a bank of treasures. I make every effort to eat, can, freeze, dry and share the perishables that come into the house. When extras languish in the refrigerator, I wish I could redistribute the food to people who need it. France’s recently adopted law requiring grocery stores to donate their dated foods, not throw them away, is inspiring and compels me to do more. In reality though, the amount I have wouldn’t satisfy more than a couple of people, maybe one day a week. Still it gnaws at me, so I motor forward. This year I bought a “need it like a hole in the head” new canning book, specifically focused on small batch preserving, to do my best to salvage it all. When in some cases the food just isn’t good, I’m vexed. Precious resources went into producing it, so I still don’t want to throw it away.

Though garden fresh produce typically leads the pack in flavor, our garden acquired a bit too much nitrogen in spots this year. It’s had an interesting, but not always tasty impact on various crops. Almost all the vegetable starts put on Incredible Hulk levels of green foliage. That expense of energy sacrificed flavor in the biggest way on the carrots. Wouldn’t you know it. I was so excited by the three different varieties of carrot we planted – red dragon, pusa, nantes – like the carrots of Columbus’ fleet! Heck, I have a carrot tattoo I love them so much. The tops were bushy and 20 inches tall. The bottoms were just that. Bottom of the barrel. Though pretty in color, the carrots were bitter, small and most of them forked at the end. A collection of “ugly dolls” with tall green feather hats. Distraught, I harbored them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator for close to three weeks, no great plan in sight.

0627152023bAfter a visit with my dog’s medical specialist, it all fell into place. Like young and old people, canine nutrition at the beginning and end stages of life can be particularly important. My dog Clark is unfortunately on the sunset end of that equation. He’s been laden with tumors nearly all his life. In a positive twist, his ten and a half years have been a story of a remarkably happy and healthy pooch… all systems go, despite his bouncy ball castle collection of bumps.

0812151557bAll good things must come to an end, and he’s showing the telltale signs of a best friend in decline. His scaly nose indicates a circulatory system that can’t pump blood like it used to. We got a short list of foods to add to his diet to help offset this failure, and there on the list… CARROTS! The 30 or so outcasts had found immense purpose. I cooked them and mixed them with the volunteer curly parsley in the garden (also on the short list). It’s goofy, but I like the thought of my #1 favorite vegetable being some kind of magic morsel for the guy who’s stood by my side through thick & thin, and never has anything but pure love in those old-soul eyes.

greenbinClark loves seeing those carrots go on his breakfast. He can seriously barely sit still while I put the bowl down. A great upside reminder of the notion that trash to one is treasure to another. Expand your thinking about what qualifies as garbage, and to whom. It’s fantastic that Spokane added food waste to the list of acceptable items in residential green bins, but consider using it as a last resort. While the compost resulting from the processing of the green bins is a beneficial result, the nutrients in the original food offer so much value. Whether it’s your dogs or chickens, or your neighbors’ animals, or a farm near you that raises animals, consider spreading the wealth lower on the food chain, before it becomes compost. Spread the health, and give the saying “they’re going to the dogs” new meaning!


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