One of the primary issues with household food waste is that many home cooks have the best of intentions but lack the know-how to reduce waste in the kitchen. When performing surveys last summer, I often found that when I asked people how easy it would be for them to reduce their food waste, they often struggled to think of ways that this could be done. Improving kitchen skills in order to make less waste the norm can be helpful. The food waste that comes out of the kitchen is mostly avoidable, but avoiding waste requires some commitment and effort, at least until it becomes habit. To help with the practical and delicious side of cooking without waste, Cinda Chavich has created a new cookbook, Waste Not, Want Not Cook Book: Save Food, Save Money, Save the Planet. Another new book is the Waste-free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders of the National Resource Defense Council. So if you’re keen to join the new green food trend of waste free cooking, you may want to check them out. My favourite way to save my groceries from rotting in the fridge is to use the search tools on Food Gawker for recipes using those particular ingredients. Happy cooking!
Hear Chavich talk about food waste and her book here.
I’m a big fan of kale, but I have to admit, I’m not the best at eating all of it. In fact I only recently found out that I could be eating all of it. My friend likes to cook the ribs in stir fry – he just gives them a head start so they aren’t as tough before tossing in the rest of the veggies. This has inspired me to look at what other parts of veggies I could and should be eating.
So I’ve made a
totally subjective definitive ranking and list for beginning to take a “root to leaf” approach to your veggies. If you’ve mastered eating an apple without cutting off the nutritious peel, then please proceed to the next level, or totally ignore the levels and try any of them cause they’ll all help reduce waste. Maybe you think you are already a waste warrior – well perhaps, like me, you didn’t even realize some things were edible.
- Beginner: Mushroom stems; apple, carrot, and potato peels; broccoli stems and leaves; pumpkin seeds; chard stems
- Intermediate: Asparagus ends; beet greens; turnip and radish greens; kale ribs; brussels sprout greens (may only be available if you have a garden, but they are a great substitute for collards)
- Advanced: Corn silk; orange and lemon rinds; carrot greens; watermelon rind (good for pickling)
Okay, so maybe you knew some of these were edible, but the problem is what do you actually do with them? A good start is to simply leave the peels on when eating fruits or root vegetables (maybe just give them a good scrub). Another easy thing is to use scraps, stems and skins to make soup or stock. For me, my go-to meals with veggie bits would be soup, stir fry, and smoothies or juices (great for kale ribs or the inner stalk of pineapples – so good).
If you are looking for more inspiration, you can check out some recipes:
Creamy Asparagus Ends Soup
Carrot Top Pesto
Pickled Chard Stems
Sweet and Spicy Sautéed Kale Stems
Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens
Looking for other veggie parts you could be eating? You can start your search here.