Every Scrap of It | COVID-19 Stories | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Every Scrap of It 

click to enlarge Turkeytail mushrooms near Byrdcliff. - FIONN REILLY
  • Fionn Reilly
  • Turkeytail mushrooms near Byrdcliff.

The lamp post on my street finally flickered on as I'm confronted with stacks of ketchup packets, over 15 different salad dressings, a rogue expired yogurt, four different half used bags of frozen peas, and an anxious heart. All my food from my fridge and freezer was sprawled out on my kitchen counter, sweating in condensation. Relatable.

Life was going as usual, but an impending storm was on the horizon. It was as if I was being force-fed news through a tube, 24/7, by every refresh on Twitter. The air was stale and I could feel the storm getting closer.

It was early March. Quarantine hadn't happened yet. Business shutdown hadn't happened yet. I was still going into work, perusing the grocery store, stopping at Stewart's to get an ice cream cone, and planning my weekend brunch. 

With apocalypse on the brain, I decided a late-night organization session of all the food in my tiny studio apartment was necessary. As I pulled out items I had forgotten about or had expired, I was met with deep guilt. I was reminded of the privilege to have food, money to splurge on that expensive pure maple syrup, and never in my life had I been worried about if I could afford to eat.

Ashamed of the food I had let go to waste, I picked up a sad bag of wrinkly grapes that were jammed in the back of my fridge, just waiting to be thrown away.

Jammed.

Jam?

Is it that simple? I threw the grapes in a pot with some sugar. With a hot flame and a couple of minutes, each shriveled fruit had its 15 seconds of fame, bursting at the seams only to join the growing pool of deep moody purple lava. Thick like molasses, I spooned it into jars.

As the weeks progressed, the earth stood still, and my time in my apartment outweighed my trips to the grocery store, I began to think more about my food. 

More than just up cycling my food but could I make my food regenerative?

I started simple with hacks I saw on Facebook. Skeptical, I placed the cut-up end of a romaine heart into a shallow cup of water and waited.

Overnight my little food scraps grew. Every morning they appeared taller and taller, leaning a little more towards the window as if they wanted to break out. I would join them with my morning coffee thinking familiar thoughts.

The need for new growth fueled my creativity, as space on my windowsill dwindled. Glasses of water that housed a sprouting avocado seed, rejuvenated parsley, and spring onions that never ended, gave me some sense of control. I called my mom in excitement when I got my first sprout from some slices of tomato I planted in some dirt.

Each day seemed like a new venture. Sell by date milk turned into creamy greek yogurt which turned into whey that was used to feed my plants. Stale bread became croutons as monster-eyed potatoes and a little bit of flour became pierogis that tasted like home. The more I created, the more I felt like I was doing something purposeful. It felt like I was more than just surviving, I was growing. 

Day 20 and my avocado seed finally sprouted a little root.

I may not have written a world changing novel, learned how to do a yoga handstand, taken up painting, or developed chiseled abs, but I did get out of bed today and remembered to water my little scrap garden.

That might be enough for me right now.

I see my tomato sprouts grew a little higher today. They must be watching spring bloom outside. Maybe it's a sign of change, but for now it's just me and the scraps.

Molly Gamache is a local video editor and part-time food blogger residing in Beacon.

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