Christine Schoefer: The Value of Food

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Food banks are overrun and hunger in America is as rampant as the food we waste. As a young girl, Christine Schoefer saw the difference between too little and too much.

I wanted an apple for my morning muesli but the only one left had three soft brown spots. Normally, I would have tossed it out. But these were COVID-19 times. And I was doubly hobbled because a freak fall had broken my fibula bone. I needed an orthopedic boot just to stand up. Forget making a quick trip to the store.

I cut the blemishes away and grated my apple. It was delicious. And it made me think: How did I become someone who threw away food so easily?

Growing up in Berlin in the long shadow of World War II, I learned that food was precious. Nothing was tossed out. Every plate was cleared.

My mother shopped with just a string bag. Then she remarried and we moved to the United States. The neighborhood supermarket in St. Paul was a miracle; shelves of cereal boxes, pyramids of canned peas, piles of watermelons, an expanse of red meats, stacks of candy bars. I was awestruck.


Midsummer, my stepdad took us to the company picnic, a jolly lakeside affair. Tables were heaped with jello molds and layered cakes. Grill stations featured men flipping burgers. You could take as much food as you wanted and no one cared if you finished it.

I remember the egg-toss game. People flinging eggs back and forth until they splattered slicking the grass with gooey yellow patches. The winner pitched his egg into the lake and everyone cheered. I didn't. When we left the picnic, half-eaten hot dogs and cupcakes were spilling from garbage cans. I felt sad. But over the years, I became careless with food.

I decided this was one BC before COVID habit I would break. Instead of stocking up, I would use up. My pantry is full of lentils, rice, tomato paste and more so many ingredients to create meals I will gladly finish.

With a Perspective, I’m Christine Schoefer.

Christine Schoefer is a writer who teaches empowerment skills to women and girls