Fresno's Ramona Haro shows how to waste less food

The Fresno BeeJune 16, 2013 

Not wasting food is a lifestyle for Ramona Haro of Fresno.

As experts decry the 90 billion pounds of food thrown away by American consumers, barely a stray baby carrot makes it into her trash can.

Haro, 45, cuts down on waste by juicing and inviting family over to use up food.

In a society where people are used to throwing food and other things away — what the pope called "a culture of waste" this month — it's the influence of two generations of women before that drive her habits.

A generous grandmother who would feed the homeless in Chinatown and a mother on a one-income budget taught Haro not to waste, she says.

"It drives me crazy to have to throw food away," she says. "I learned to respect food and the fact that not everybody is fortunate enough to have an abundance of things and go to the market and buy whatever you want."

So when Haro sees something in her refrigerator that might not get used, she makes it into a meal and invites friends and family over to eat it. Of course, family to Haro includes her two 20-something children and about 30 nieces and nephews.

"It's like Grand Central Station here between my nieces and nephews," she says. "Someone is always here eating."

She cooks based on what's in the refrigerator and cupboard before buying something new, and watches food shows for ideas of how to use up that broccoli or pasta.

She uses up a lot of food by juicing, too.

With her $25 hand-held Cuisinart blender from Costco, Haro throws ice, vegetables, fruit, sometimes yogurt or a splash of fruit juice — "anything from my fridge" into a large cup and makes a smoothie.

Green apples are the key to adding sweetness, she notes. She even threw in a fruit tart recently, pastry crust and all.

"It's kinda like a potluck in my smoothie machine," she says.

And if she has leftovers from a restaurant? She gives them away to people on the street. When meeting a friend for lunch at Livingstone's recently, she commandeered the half a turkey, bacon, avocado sandwich a friend was going to leave uneaten, and gave it away to a stranger. (The health risks of such a practice are minimal, but diseases can be passed along that way, notes the Fresno County Department of Public Health, so don't do it when you're sick.)

"I roll the window down and see all the little street kids and say, 'Is anybody hungry?' " she says. "I find when you're feeding people, even if they're on the street, they're always grateful."  

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, or @BethanyClough on Twitter.

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