I was once told that Noma, a 2 Michelin Star restaurant, had a dish where they used the entire pumpkin for one meal. You ate everything. Nothing happened to you. It tasted great. No one died.
WHAT A NOVELTY.
Compost has become the go to method or reducing landfill and turning food waste back into nutrient dense plant food. This is fantastic, but imagine if you didn’t have to turn things you PAID for into soil?
The internet is a magical thing. Next time you go to throw food waste into the bin, stop and search the web for ways to use said “waste.”
Here I offer a short list of ideas. The rest is up to the webs of the wide world and your own creative minds.
- Broccoli and Cauliflower and Kale stems and leaves can be steamed and sautéed. Soups, Stir-fries, Dumplings, are all things that these can be added to.
- Winter Squash Seeds (Pumpkin, Butternut, Acorn ect.) can be saved, roasted and sprinkled on top of dishes for extra nutrients, texture and garnish.
- Meat Bones. When you are finished your roast chicken, beef or pork, save the bones and boil with herbs for a couple hours. Strain, and separate meat and bones. Put meat back in broth and use as a base for many dishes. Homemade broth can pull out nutrients from animal bones that would normally go in the trash. Hard Cheese Rinds are also a great addition of flavour to any broth.
- All Vegetable Scraps can be saved for a veggie broth as well. Freeze onion ends, carrot tops, kale stems, cabbage cores, and many other items until you have a big enough collection to make a broth. I would strongly recommend only doing this with organic produce, as you are essentially concentrating the component of these veg into one pot. (SIDE NOTE: BUY ORGANIC AND YOU CAN ALMOST ALWAYS EAT MORE OF THE VEGETABLE AND SAVE TIME PEELING EVERYTHING)
- Coffee grounds saved my skin last winter. This year I was generously gifted with some lovely face scrubs, but last winter, a tablespoon of coffee grounds, and some nice almond oil I splurged on mixed together to provide the most glorious face scrub.
- Bruised and over-ripe fruit are the ultimate source for baking goodness. Throw them in oatmeal or muffins, or even smoothies, but not the bin!
- Green Tops of Root Vegetables are also and excellent source of nutrients. Most farmers leave them on for aesthetics and to show the freshness of the produce, but few expect you to actually eat them. DO IT. You can get so much more food out of those carrot and turnips than just their root. (Search da googs for further details.)
- Apple Peels/Cores can also be saved along with other fruit scraps and turned into vinegar. I will admit that this may be a bit extreme and fermenting foods may not be your thing, however my sister introduced me to to a not so healthy but delicious snack option of sugar coated apple peel crisps. SO FUN!
I’ve been reading about how large portions of the nutrients in rice are lost in modern day milling practices, specifically thiamin which in the 19th century caused an increased amount of people whose diets where high in rice and low on meat to be plagued by something called the beriberi disease.* That being said I’ve shifted to a more whole grain approach. Eating all parts of the food we harvest is so important to reducing waste, but it is clearly also crucial to our health. If you are a meat eater it is important to know that different parts of the animal provide different kinds of nutrients. If you are a plant eater it is important to know that you can in fact eat the roots of cilantro as well as the tops, and the whole grain does more for you than refined grains do. It seems so simple, but refined and processed food has eliminated so much of those key nutrients. I believe we can get a bigger bang for our buck nutrient wise, the less processed our food is, even if the up front costs seem more expensive, our bodies will thank us in the long run.
Waste not, eat lots.
*On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee