The food network

On a day defined by excess, Ashley Stanley, founder of Boston food rescue group Lovin' Spoonfuls, offers ways to spread the love.

Before the weeks end, you will probably have scraped an inordinate amount of leftovers into the trash. Imagine that post-holiday ritual happening in millions of houses across thousands of neighborhoods from coast to coast, and you can begin to imagine the volume of food wasted in this country. "The visual that I like to give," says Ashley Stanley, a Wellesley native who founded the Boston food rescue organization, Lovin' Spoonfuls, "Is to imagine the Rose Bowl, a 95,000 seat arena. If you filled it with fresh produce every day and set it on fire, that's the rate that we're wasting food."

It is staggering to process wastefulness on that level. It is heartbreaking when you consider the number of people who go without. Hence Stanley's mission to change things. Lovin' Spoonfuls rescues fresh, healthy foods that can no longer be sold (slightly bruised apples, for instance) from large retailers, grocers and wholesalers; it then delivers those lean proteins, produce and whole grains to soup kitchens, shelters and other social resources that feed those in need. "We talk a lot about being the bridge between abundance and need," she says. "It's not about producing more ourselves, it's not about finding something that isn't there, it's about connecting resources that we already have."

Bridging that gap is no small undertaking, but Stanley's mission is bigger still: She intends to alter the perception of hunger itself. "It's almost 2013 and the population is higher, food production is higher, food in general is such a multifaceted industry now," Stanley explains. "It's a celebrity industry, a restaurant driven industry and a product driven industry. Everything, including hunger itself, has changed. Except the solution." As far as Stanley is concerned, approaching it all from a modern point of view begins with changing the language that we use to define it. Hunger no longer constitutes a chronic condition. Today it means food insecurity, or not knowing where your next meal is coming from. In these times of mortgage crises and oil crises (among other crises, of course) that group extends well beyond the poverty stricken demographic.

Modern times call for modern solutions. Lovin' Spoonfuls is getting it done in Boston. But every household with an overstuffed Thanksgiving table can do a little something too. Here, Stanley tells us how:

get in on the leftovers

"Let's revisit the idea of leftovers. There are so many ways to repurpose that big meal and reuse all of it. You can use everything that you have."

be bold with flavors

"My friend Andrew Zimmern who is also on my board has an amazing recipe for Turkey a la King. It encourages the idea of engaging the people who you have over for the holiday and creating another meal that brings everyone back to the table. You're not using any new product, you're not using any new food, but you're purposing it in a way that isn't boring. Use different things in your house — different pots, pans, spices and flavors — and get creative.
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"The idea is to have a list and pay attention. It's the same thing as looking at your energy bill to understand your consumption. Pay attention to what your family is eating. If you're dropping $300 at Whole Foods on a Monday and your kids aren't eating the produce, that's what you want to pay attention to. Split it up into two trips. Also, have multiple dishes that you can make with what you buy. If you're buying protein, have a couple of recipes that you can use with that protein."