How often do you feel like you’re throwing out more food than you’re eating? It might not surprise you that in America, 40% of our food supply goes to waste. That means that 40% of the food developed goes uneaten and ends up in a landfill. Crazy, right? If you’re interested in reading more about the breakdown behind this stat, check out this Natural Resources Defense Council report.
But what’s most important is, ‘What can we do about it?’ With an average of $28-$48 dollars per month per individual of waste, how can we decrease this loss?
Our nation’s savvy cooks are taking on the food waste issue head on, “With a…deeper shift in the mood of the nation’s cooks, one in which wasting food is unfashionable. Running an efficient kitchen — where bruised fruit is blended into smoothies, carrot tops are pulsed into pesto, and a juicy pork shoulder can move seamlessly from Sunday supper to Monday’s carnitas to a rich pot of broth for the freezer — is becoming as satisfying as the food itself.” –K. Severson
Chef Dan Barber is so devoted to this movement that he opened up a pop-up restaurant in NYC where every dish was based on waste. Hence the name, WastED.
But, in order to know how to fix a problem, it’s important to understand how we got here. “Somewhere along the line, the art of kitchen efficiency was lost amid grocery stores packed with pre-made pizza shells, bagged lettuce and fruit so perfect it needed no knife work. Dinner was almost as likely to come from the drive-through … as from the stove. How were home cooks supposed to know what to do with a leftover chicken carcass if they didn’t know how to roast the chicken in the first place?” – K. Severson
But with a new food wave coming, one where we cook more like our grandmothers than our mothers, we can be the difference. The talk of “healthy eating costs more” can be improved with an efficient cook making up the difference.
Now, lacking a professional culinary degree, what can we actually do in our own kitchens to improve our food waste?
Chef Olivia Roszkiwski from the Natural Gourmet Institute shares several ideas that we domestic chefs can apply in our own kitchens!
- Blanch and blend any greens (like from the tops of produce) for a pesto, relish or salsa
- Use petite greens as a decorative garnish
- Save greens for juicing or smoothies
- Pickle stems for a tangy condiment
- Coat seeds in oil and roast in a pan
- Grind seeds into a powder and use as a crispy coating
- Use seeds as a garnish for a salad crunch
- Roast peels into a crispy snack or garnish
- Chop extra ingredients for a soup or gazpacho
- Create infused water, drinks or cocktails for a special gathering (great conversation piece)
Some additional ideas include:
- When produce looks like it is going bad, freeze for a smoothie later
- Bake apples that are browning
- Chop up a side salad with dinner to rid the fridge of extra produce
- Share a dish with neighbors or co-workers
- Chop produce into ready-to-eat form when you get home from the grocery – when its ready to eat, people will eat it
Have any other suggestions for reducing waste in your home?