Monday Q&A | Pantry waste, Compost Flies, and Used SLR equipment

by Kristen on August 9, 2010 · 13 comments

in Composting, Photography, Q&A

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

How often do you go through your pantry? Do you often have crackers, rice, or pasta that goes bad before you can use it? Sometimes I buy a new product to try and we don’t like it (I currently have a large jar of dried edamame that I can’t bring myself to finish). Do you force these types of things down the gullet or do you just cut your losses and toss them?

-Cathryn

I go through my pantry less frequently than I probably should! But pantry waste has not ever been a huge problem for me, even back before Food Waste Friday. Pantry foods have a really long shelf life most of the time, and I can usually manage to use them up before they go bad.

However, I do sometimes have waste of this sort..I recently had to throw out a container of steel cut oats because they’d gotten rancid. They were still safe to eat, but I am just not desperate enough to each rancid-tasting oatmeal. So, to answer your question, no, I don’t force myself to eat stuff that I really can’t stand.

If the food is still edible, though, I think it’s a good idea to give it away to a friend who would be interested in eating it. Maybe you have an edamame-loving acquaintance?

If you frequently have pantry waste, you might need to adopt a regular pantry-cleaning schedule. I have to do that with my fridge or else I completely lose track of what is in there (knowing what food you have is half the battle!). A regular perusal of my fridge’s contents is very helpful to me, and maybe it would help you with your pantry as well.

I have a question about composting that I’m hoping you can clarify. I am using your method of the rubbermaid container, and I’ve been filling it up for about 5 months now. This morning I went out to add my weekly bucket of scraps and I was greeted by a swarm of flies. I have livestock so I’m used to flies, but these guys were beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Do you have problems with flies or am I doing something wrong with what I’m adding to the compost pile? I’ve kept my composting to kitchen scraps and yard waste as your instructions indicated but I do have three other capable adults who live here (OK two of them are teenagers but close enough to grown up that I count them that way) who may add things when I’m not looking. Any ideas on what I can do to get rid of the flies? Seriously if I put out those fly paper trap things they’d be filled within minutes. I’m surprised my neighbor hasn’t complained. I’m tempted to dig a hole in my pasture and dump everything into it, bury it and call it a failed experiment. I thought I’d check with you first before I did anything drastic.

-Rockzann

I’m guessing these were fruit flies, which are the main pests that hang around my compost bins. I’ve also had some smallish black flies which are different than the normal house fly…I’m not sure what they’re called!

The best advice I have is to make sure that you are adding enough browns (leaves, shredded paper, shredded cardboard, etc) to your pile. If your kitchen waste/browns ratio is off too much, your compost will be wet, stinky, and full of flies.

When I add compost to my bin, I always cover it with a layer of browns, which is my case is usually leaves or paper shreds. If I don’t do that, I have fly problems galore.


(it would be much better if my leaves were shredded…they’d compost faster that way. But compost doesn’t have to be perfect to work!)

The browns on top of the pile are too dry to compost at first, but they always get covered with another layer of wet compost in a short while, and they they have enough moisture to decompose.

Do you have any tips for first time buyers about what features and characteristics they should focus on when purchasing a dSLR body and lens? Also, I’m thinking about buying used. Do you have any specific tips for what to look out for if buying used? Would you recommend against buying a used (for the body/lens/both)?

-Carla

Hmm. Since I’ve only used Canon digital SLR equipment, I’m probably a little bit biased towards their products. But I’d probably recommend that you buy either a Nikon or Canon SLR camera body. I know some people love other SLR brands, but I’d be a little bit nervous about going with a smaller SLR company.

If your budget is limited, I would suggest skimping a little bit on the camera body so that you have enough money for a nice lens. A body is nice, but the lens is really where it’s at. For the Canon, I cannot recommend the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens highly enough. I love this lens to pieces and it’s on my camera somewhere around 95% of the time (my $1200 24-70 lens doesn’t get nearly as much use as my $350 50mm does!).

Anyways, I’d rather have my Rebel body and my 50mm lens than my 7D with a not-so-great lens.

I have not ever bought a used piece of camera equipment yet, so I’m useless for advice in that arena. I buy other used items all the time, but for some reason, I’m scared to buy used camera equipment from someone I don’t know (I worry that it might have been dropped, or kept in unfriendly temperatures). Then again, there are a fair number of people who buy SLRs and lenses, decide they’re in over their heads, and then want to sell their equipment. So if you found a deal like that, it’d be worth going for!

Oh, and on my 365 blog, I have a list of all my current camera equipment, since I get asked about that so often.

Today’s 365 post: Zoe, in shadow.
disclosure

Leave a Comment

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenessa August 9, 2010 at 10:17 am

I have an Olympus dslr and absolutely love it. Olympus makes wonderful lenses. Sony and Pentax also make excellent dslrs. Pentax tends to be pretty inexpensive, but good quality.
This is a helpful website that will take you through some things you should consider when buying a dslr: http://www.digital-slr-guide.com/.
It is important to think about what you plan to photograph. For instance the 50mm lens works great for Kristen, but I mostly photograph landscapes and am in love with my 12-60mm zoom lens.

Reply

2 Kristen August 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Ooh, that’s so true. I wish I had been smart enough to say that! lol I hardly EVER do landscape photography (I stink at it and it doesn’t really blow my hair back), so the 50mm meets my needs very well. But it would be a pretty unhelpful lens for you!

Reply

3 Battra92 August 9, 2010 at 10:55 am

KEH.com, Adorama.com and Bhphotovideo.com are all great places to buy used equipment from.

Also, one other piece of SLR advice is to pick a mount and stick with it. I made the mistake of owning Canon, Nikons and Yashicas. I’m down to just Nik and Yashica and yet I want to ditch them both and go for the Leica M mount. That’s certainly not frugal by any means but if I suddenly became wealthy I’d do it in a heartbeat. ^_^;;

Reply

4 Kristen August 9, 2010 at 10:59 am

Yes, indeed. I always say that I am firmly in Canon-land now. After I invested in my 24-70 lens, I decided that there was no turning back! lol

Reply

5 Laura W. August 9, 2010 at 11:23 am

I just started composting and I’m having trouble with the browns. Where do you get dried leaves in the middle of the summer (or winter for that matter)? I don’t have a paper shredder but perhaps it’s time to invest in one.

Reply

6 Mrs Green @ myzerowaste August 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm

ahhh, the dreaded fruit flies! We covered that over on MZW last year and we pretty much gave the same advice as you with the addition of keeping compost in the home covered so that fruit flies can’t get in while your home is warm, enjoy a bit of breeding then take off when they’re released into the compost heap.
There were a lot of comments, so there may be some additional tips in there too if your reader would care to browse through :
http://myzerowaste.com/2009/05/compost-awareness-week-swarms-of-fruit-flies/

Reply

7 wanda August 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm

My composting is far from perfect as well (in fact, this summer it turned into a grub farm that sounded like rice crispies) but when I have too many flying insects, I sprinkle diatomaceous earth on it. It seems to cut back on them surprisingly fast.

Reply

8 Erin August 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Mine was more for the raccoons dinner rather than composting. We tried everything to get the coons away but they are relentless

Reply

9 Linda August 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I bought my second hand Canon Rebel from a ramera repair store. They checked it out thoroughly before putting it up for sale and offered a 1 year gaurantee. I would be weary of buying one on eBay or Craig’s list unles the price was so reasonable that I could also get any repair work done and be within my budget.

Reply

10 Gillian August 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Just a comment to add to the pantry question.

When I buy new items, I do my best to place the newer items near the back and bring the older items forward. That way I know that I don’t have food sitting there for years!

Reply

11 momcents August 10, 2010 at 2:41 am

I recently bought a refurbished Nikon camera body from adorama.com. I had an old film SLR sitting around collecting dust and was able to use the old lens on a digital camera body. I’ve had the camera body for less than a month, but I can say that I was quite pleased with the service and product I received from adorama.

Reply

12 Kate August 10, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I bought my Cannon rebel xsi off of ebay. It was a great experience! The company that was selling it as a floor model and as such cut the price drastically! It was essentially brand new,some surface scratches but nothing past that and the lens and camera case that came with it were brand new. I would be careful and do your research in to the sellers if you do decide to take the ebay route. Ask questions and request more photos if necessary, but if you can find a deal its often well worth it!

Kate

Reply

13 Becky @ MyKidsMake August 12, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for the post about your composting. I have been wanting to compost for a while now but didnt want to shell out the $$ for those bins I see in the stores. I love the idea of the Rubbermaid container, so much so that I just went and set up my compost bin last night. Thanks!

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: