We either treat people as too dumb or too smart in economics. A better representation is people being somewhere in the middle. Smart in some aspects and dumb in others (like financial planning). People are usually smart in reacting to prices especially those of daily consumption. If prices go up and there are alternatives, people tend to choose the latter. We see this especially in food items.
So Jug Suraiya has this interesting piece on on how rising veg prices has led to his rethinking on wasting veggies:
The rising prices of vegetables – after onions, it’s now the turn of tomatoes to go through the roof – have a silver lining: it incentivises us to invent, or re-invent, new recipes.
This happened in our kitchen the other day when in the course of the making of a cauliflower sabzi i noticed that the stalks of the gobhi were being thrown away by the household help. Instead of chucking them in the garbage, why don’t we chop them up and stir fry them? i asked.
So we did. And the stir-fried stalks tasted great. But while i was patting myself on the back for having invented a new recipe, i discovered – thanks to Bunny’s Gurgaon Foodies group – that it wasn’t new at all. In fact it was an old, traditional recipe and even had an official name given to it. It’s called danthal, which not only tastes great but is also very wholesome, the stalks being by far the most nutritious part of the cauliflower.
Similarly, the leaves of the mooli, the white radish, which are generally discarded can be turned into a palatable and healthy dish, which also helps you cut down on food costs.
Coming as she did from the lean-ribbed aridity of Kutch which fostered frugality, my mother always ensured that there was never any wastage in the kitchen. After shelling peas, she wouldn’t throw away the pods but turn them into a palatable dish. She’d do the same with potato peels.
In the mango season, after the fruit had been eaten the large seed inside -called the gotlo in Kutchi – would be put into the smouldering embers of the coal-fired choola and baked. Cracked open after baking, the gotlo revealed an edible kernel. Years later when i first ate them in the chill of a London winter the taste of roast chestnuts bought from a streetside vendor would bring back memories of the hidden delicacy that lay buried within the heart of the mango.
In such decisions, you bring the government/planner and you know the results..