I think we can all agree food waste is an ENORMOUS problem in our country. I've got 6 easy ways to avoid food waste you can start implementing in your own home today.
I know we've ALL been there.
You're digging around in your fridge trying to figure out what to cook for dinner. You find some sad, wilted herbs that are no longer a vibrant green. They have turned a muddy brown. Raspberries, once gorgeous and ruby red, now covered with green specks of mold. Then there's the raw chicken that smells anything but fresh. Food waste happens for loads of different reasons. Produce gets buried so deep in the fridge it gets completely forgotten (beets? when the heck did I buy beets?), or plans change and we end up eating out (0r ordering in -- yes, even people who have menu planning websites order in!).
There's nothing I hate more than throwing away food (ok, well, running out of coffee and getting a flat tire may be things I hate more....but just barely!).
I thought it would be helpful to start a blog series with tips and ideas for how to cut down on food waste. For my very first post, I thought I'd cover one of the food trends for 2018: Root to Stem Cooking. Have you heard of nose to tail? In the PNW, it's a trendy term that has popped up in lots of local restaurants. It literally means creating recipes that use the entire animal. Every recipe won't feature every part, but every part is spread throughout the recipes on the menus. Now, even if you are vegetarian or vegan, this idea is a great one because it cuts down ENORMOUSLY on food waste.
Root to stem cooking is the same basic idea. You use the entire veggie. I'm talking carrot tops (you know -- those green frilly things you usually twist off and throw away), stalks of broccoli and cauliflower, fennel fronds (more green frilly things), stems of asparagus and Swiss chard, and beet greens.
Here are just a few easy ways you can incorporate root to stem in your own kitchen:
- Carrots: Chop up the green tops and sprinkle them over your favorite salad for an extra boost of fresh herb flavor, then use the tops in pesto as an alternative (or in addition) to basil. Don't peel your carrots. Do you know the majority of nutrients are actually found IN the peel? Scrub the carrots well, then use them as you normally would -- chop into salad, roast them, steam them. This is one of my family's favorite carrot recipes -- https://www.amenuforyou.com/side-dishes/arugula-salad-with-cumin-roasted-carrots-side-dish-1939
- Stems: Next time you use anything with a stem -- asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli -- keep it. Use a mandolin or box grater to slice the stems into smaller pieces. Use them in salads, sauté in a little butter and olive oil, or leave them in larger pieces to use for vegetable stock.
- Tops: Usually, these wind up in the garbage can because you don't know how to use them. Carrots, fennel, and beets are just a few veggies that have them. I love using carrot and fennel fronds finely diced up in salads or I'll make pesto with them. Beet greens are delicious chopped and sautéed in a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
- Buy your produce from a company that supports reducing food waste. One company that is working to lessen food waste is Imperfect Produce. First off, I promise you this is not an ad. We are not getting any compensation at all from Imperfect Produce. It just happens to be a company I've recently found that purchases produce not pretty enough for grocery stores. It would normally be tossed into the trash bin which is silly because, even though it may not look perfect, it is still delicious, fresh, nutritious produce. Imperfect Produce's mission statement really resonates with both Donna and I. It is sourced directly from the farmer, delivered straight to your door, and you save money. If you want to check it out for yourself, here's the link: https://www.imperfectproduce.com/home.php
- Make homemade vegetable stock. Next time you cut up an onion, smash some garlic or are ready to toss the remnants of veggies you're using in a recipe, take out a large tupperware or ziplock bag. Store all the remnants (I usually store in the freezer so they don't spoil), and use them to make vegetable stock.
- Compost: For things that you truly cannot use -- spoiled food, half-eaten leftovers from dinner, etc. -- there is composting. This is a great option because compost not only reduces the amount of garbage in our landfills, but it makes amazing, nutrient-rich fertilizer. You can either compost yourself (and then use it to grow your own produce), or, in many cities, you can put it in your food waste/yard waste can and the city will compost it.
These are just a few ideas on how to get started on cutting down on food waste.
With the continued focus on lessening our environmental footprint, it is important we all take a look at what we can do (even little steps are better than none) to make sure this gorgeous planet is around (and thriving) for future generations.
Have you found a way to cut down on food waste in your house? Let me know in the comments!
**From time to time, I will highlight a company, product, blogger, or other food related item. I will only do this for things I truly believe in and use. I love sharing my special finds with you, and will let you know if I'm being compensated.