logoIn the days of yore I participated in the Kyiv Post discussion about the clash of cultures, as that clash was seen by the Americans’ and the Ukrainians’ attitude to the food they consume (it was bread that time). I was happy to have my answer recognized as the best one. Here’s the Editor’s final say about the results of the discussion, which may also be found at


Dec. 21, 2000, 2 p.m.

Readers present alternative ways of using stale bread, but some do not consider throwing it away a crime the traditional Ukrainian view that even the moldiest crumb should be spared; Scott opined that it’s more practical to chuck the weeks-old brick and spend 10 cents on a fresh loaf. Our readers took up the argument, with the winning response coming from Vitaly Babych, who takes home lunch for two at Primavera.

If Scott buys a loaf of bread, it is his bread and he is free to do with it anything he likes – he can even play baseball with it. However, a person’s life in society presupposes a certain degree of feeling and acting along with other people. I am sure Scott’s Ukrainian friend who reproached him for throwing away the stale bread felt no less hurt than my American teacher-colleagues would have felt if I had not risen to my feet when I said the Pledge to Allegiance. Sometimes my wife buys a round of Ukrainsky when we haven’t yet finished the old bread. Resentfully, I keep chewing the old bread, throwing envious glances at the fragrant round that is waiting to be consumed (hopefully, not the day after).

Vitaly Babych

It is always easier to tell others what they shouldn’t do rather than what they should do. I strongly doubt that anybody buys bread just to toss it out later. But if you are an industrious housekeeper, a prisoner sentenced to life in prison or the owner of a rabbit (as I am; and bread is his favorite snack), you learn to appreciate the wonders of stale bread.

D. Slodkij

It seems to me that customs were created for making our life more complicated, such as all this fuss about bread. We toss out practically everything – food, clothes, letters that contain our private feelings and thoughts. We even toss out our politicians. Conclusion – whatever is put into the trash, can just as easily be taken out.

Vira Ilchenko.

I don’t like eating stale bread. However, I do understand that there are those less fortunate in this world who are not able to be so “decadent.” I always wrap up the bread and leave it by the trash container, so those who are forced to look for food can get to it without having to dig into the mire of the bin.

Wayne Gordon

I never throw away old bread. I keep it and use it as organic clay. Over the past five years my stockpile of bread clay has risen. This has prompted me to take up sculpture with great, if limited success. It is my goal to produce artistic replicas of all the places I have visited on my travels as a hearing aid salesman. So far I have created a particularly good Eiffel Tower from baguette-based clay, Buckingham Palace, The White House and TsUM on Khreshchatyk. I am currently working on a sculpture inspired by Mount Rushmore, except rather than American presidents, it depicts Ukrainian leaders. I am thinking of calling it “Mount Sneermore” because of the expression on the face of Leonid Kuchma. The funny thing is that it also smells like the politicians!

Alex Shaw

I support Lewis. I just wish that Ukrainians had the same attitude toward littering in public places as they do about throwing away bread.

Alex Nikolaenko

The thought of wasting any food should be a concern to all! Given Ukraine’s history of famine and war, this issue is embedded into the country’s culture. There are plenty of recipes that use stale bread as an ingredient. You can make excellent croutons for salads and soups, meat coating as well as stuffing for chicken and turkey.

Robert Reed

I tend to agree with Scott. It is not like I am some super consumer who throws away things as soon as they’re old. I support recycling as much as anyone. My mom never missed a chance to remind me of the starving children in Africa or the hard times in Finland after the war. However, if I am always finishing the old bread before starting a new loaf, I just end up constantly eating dry bread. I can’t see how stuffing myself with dry crumbs will pay tribute to the workers of this former “bread-basket of the Soviet Union.” I say, if it tastes like poo or harms your teeth, get rid of it! Try to optimize your consumption by putting half the bread in the freezer, or by buying smaller quantities as Anya suggested.

Malin Ahlbeck

I don’t consider throwing away a piece of stale bread a crime. If food is unfit for eating, I find no other use for it then putting it into a garbage basket. About 15 years ago the problem of wasting food was solved easily. People would put food into a basket and send it off to a collective farm where it was used as cattle feed. People were praised for taking care of some farmer’s pigs and cows. I don’t have pigs in my apartment, and would prefer to keep chicken bones and surprise my neighbor’s dog.

Sergiy Mezhevych

I I am disappointed with Anya’s write-up on bread. I wondered why countries like Nigeria and China were referred to as countries with “starving” children. I just wondered why “starving” Ukrainian children, who are littered all over the streets of Kyiv, were not mentioned. Anya, take a trip out and educate yourself about Africa. Nigeria has had a fair share of its own problems as many developing nations do, but starvation is not one of them. It is very obvious that your knowledge of Nigeria is very shallow.

Mrs. Blessing Bisong

In cattle-breading nations such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, they treat cattle products with the same respect [as Ukrainians treat bread]. In these countries you must never throw away the last drops of “koumiss” (fermented mare’s milk) into the fire, because it is believed to cause cattle plague and other disasters. I don’t think English-speaking nations are much different. Everything in the world is much more interconnected than it seems, and we must be careful with the things we do not understand. Scott Lewis dislikes feeding pigeons and rats. As for me, I feel a great respect to those few animals that have managed to survive living so close to Homo sapiens, the most destructive, aggressive and waste-producing species on the planet.

Serguei Ignatov

As many Ukrainian kids, I have been brought up with deep respect for bread and those who make it. Since kindergarten I was taught that throwing away bread is a crime. Although there are many points of view, from an economical point of view, it is wrong to throw away bread. Plus, there are so many tasty things to cook from stale bread of any kind! There are cakes, toasts, kotleti, and stuffed loaves. People, use your imagination and you can save some money!

Marina Starodubska


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