Waste Not, Want Not

Tomatoes © Jim Korpi

“In Mexico we eat them,” a migrant worker explained as he made his way down the rows of tomatoes and knocked those on the ground with small blemishes and what I would call tomato stretch marks. “In the US you throw them away.”
I was there to make photographs and not fill my trunk, so it took everything in me to keep from walking behind him and picking up what we “throw away.”
Having had a number of my plants get hit by blight this year, and my Mom saying she lost all but three tomatoes in her giant garden, I nearly passed out with frustration at the site of so many plump, edible tomatoes.
I photographed Jamaicans picking summer squash in New Hampshire and the same policy at the farm was in place, if it had a blemish leave it to rot in the field. When I asked the farmer if he could donate it to a local soup kitchen he said the cost of getting the squash there is too high.
“Waste not, want not,” was something my parents used to say. Do people say this any more?

Posted October 13th, 2009 in Uncategorized.


  1. Lau:

    Some do! But not enough. Well said!

    Jim, have kids: all left overs can be made into baby-food. No need to buy anything prefab or canned.

  2. aeg73:

    Great writing Jim! I think that most of us do insist on all things new & perfect looking when given a choice. A local farm I visit sells "cosmetically challenged" tomatoes for a reduced rate, which I often purchase! People tend to have very short term thinking, not what's best for the long run!

  3. Rebekah:

    The ugly veggies tend to taste the best!!! Lau–well said! I made all my own baby food and I can't express enough how empowering and fulfilling it was to do so! Not only did I save so much money, but I knew exactly what was going into their little bods. I just read an article in the VN about the Haven losing a major supplier of their fresh fruits and veges because the supplier was bought out by a corporate giant and it cost too much. Whatever. If people can get creative it can be done! Waste not want not, and where there is a will there is a way!!

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