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Day 3: Cook Root to Stem!

You’ll be amazed by all the food you’ve been tossing.

Hi Green14ers!

I’m sure many of you growing up like myself were told, “Don’t waste your food!” Of course, this may have been because of your family not wanting to waste their hard-earned money on food that would be trashed, but it also simultaneously served as a call to action to know that wasting your food was a bad thing to do, not just for your wallet but also for the planet. The total annual cost of wasted food in the US was estimated to be $240 billion or $1,866 per household. On top of that, it’s estimated that 6 to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we just stopped wasting so much food. 

Knowing that, it’s really important that we think outside the box to make sure our food ends up in our bellies and not the trash – and that means repurposing leftovers, cooking produce from root to stem, and keeping track of your groceries so they don’t spoil in the fridge because you overshopped or forgot about fresh foods until it was too late. For the sake of this challenge, think about your average grocery list and evaluate how much of that you really need or will potentially be tossed out. 

When thinking about produce, consider this fun fact: A lot of people are surprised that they can use their vegetable stalks or leaves that are commonly considered the “inedible” portion to make vegetable rices, flavorful soup stocks, pestos, sauces and more! Check out this video on root-to-stem cooking to stretch your ingredients and save money. 

Be realistic about the food you’re consuming and wasting overall and then employ some of my tactics for slashing that amount of trash, significantly. 

  • Buy in bulk for items like nuts, seeds and dried fruit. It can save you money and is a one-time investment that can be stretched out for long periods of time. 
  • Shop smarter by buying bruised or less attractive food items at farmers markets or grocery stores. They typically sell these discounted and are completely edible and safe to eat. You can also sign up for a local CSA (community supported agriculture) program in your area which delivers healthy produce from farm to table and supports local farmers. If you live in a large metropolitan area, buying a produce share that you can split up with your household can save a lot of money. 
  • Also, if you want to eat healthy but don’t want your food to go to waste after preparing it, do some big meal preps of ingredients for dishes like soups, rice or stir fries, then use your Tupperware to freeze and store it to eat at a later time. 
  • You can also propagate vegetables like green onions, celery, and lettuce. This basically means taking cuttings or pieces from the vegetable and regrowing it into another plant so down the line you won’t have to buy more produce! To also make your produce last longer you can pickle your vegetables in brines, such as cabbage for kimchi, pickled radishes, sauerkraut, and so much more – which can be more fermented and useful for gut health!

Watch this quick video on how to turn carrot tops into a delicious pesto in minutes!