I went over with my parents a few days ago to help clean out some of the food that my grandma had been keeping in her cupboards, and had long since expired. It was not a pleasant experience. She had boxes and boxes of food that she didn’t need, old spaghetti that had been forgotten and cans and cans of soup which she never ate.
I got the wonderful job of taking the jars of food that was past the expiry date and dumping them into the compost bin outside my grandma’s apartment. Standing in front of the bin with a cardboard box full of jars and a plastic spoon in my hand, I couldn’t help but wish I didn’t have to be there. I should have been eating my grandma’s homemade cookies or having tea with her in her sitting room. That would have been more normal. But instead, I was leaning over a compost bin, watching old salsa and jam plop into the pile of decomposing slop that already filled the bin.
I couldn’t decide if I preferred the runny jars or the solid ones. The runny ones would dribble out, splattering into the bin like vomit or diarrhoea, which was sickening to hear. But at the same time, the more solid ones would hit the bottom with a plop, their jelly sides wobbling as they oozed into the pile. And as I stood there leaning over the compost bin, dumping out a jar of pickled herrings that should have long since been eaten, I hoped I would never end up like my grandma in my old age, hoarding away food to forget about it and let it go stale with negligence. I know an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I really hope that this one gets whipped far away by the wind.