Did you know that the whole planet collectively wastes around one-third of the food that it produces each year? This translates to 1.3 billion tons of food each year, all of which is just thrown away without consumption or being of any use. In addition to that, it only creates more issues for a planet that is already ridden with environmental problems.
If you think that this is worrisome, then you are not incorrect in following that line of thought. However, the silver lining here is that you can do your part to bring about a meaningful change to your immediate surroundings. All it takes is the simple act of using all parts of an ingredient that you decide to cook with.
How food waste can be managed effectively by a cooking technique
While it may sound simple, implementing the practice to consume parts of ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away is very logical. It not only reduces our effect on the planet, but minimizes our global food waste problem as well. The method of “nose to tail” cooking has been implemented by various cooks around the world for a while now. World-renowned chef Fergus Henderson brought the notion to light almost two decades ago, when he started propagating the practice of using every part of an animal for sustainable eating. Since then, the practice has not only seen worldwide adaptation but has also transcended into the realm of fresh produce, and for good reason as well.
The root to stalk method
The vegetarian equivalent to “nose to tail” method has been branded as the “root to stalk” approach. It has gained significant traction in the past few years, especially since more and more people started incorporating more vegetables and fruits into their everyday diet. Similar to how the nose to tail method shows the world how to use animal offal to make delicious dishes, root to stalk stays true to its name and demonstrates various methods of using every part of a fruit and vegetable, right from the skin to the seeds.
It arguably remains more important than the nose to tail methods in many aspects. This is because fruit and vegetable scraps make up a major part of the overall food that is thrown away by the world each year. By consuming these ingredients completely, we can work towards reducing the volume of wasted food by a fair margin.
Use fruits and vegetables in alternate courses
It happens to all of us at some point. We often experience such evenings where we crave a savory home-cooked dish, only to find a remaining stack of fruits in the fridge. Similarly, the desire of eating a sweet and comforting dessert often ends up with discovering only vegetables in the pantry. The result is far from exciting. Most of the time, this scenario ends up with us not using any of the items uncovered in the search and getting takeout instead – which results in the unused produce going to waste a couple of days later.
However, creativity and experimentation with gastronomy in the recent past have turned this around. The usage of fruits in savory dishes and vegetables in desserts is a widely recognized trend by now and is also practiced by home cooks in their day to day cooking. Preparing dishes such as prosciutto wrapped figs with goat cheese or beetroot brownies can bring about a fun and delicious end result.
Pickle those stems
The essence of root and stalk cooking lies in the practice of respecting ingredients. If you adopt this practice, you will need to utilize each and every part of produce whenever you can. Instead of throwing away parts of the fruits and vegetables that are left behind after your culinary adventures, learn how to use them effectively.
The approach of pickling leftover vegetable and fruit segments has gained quite some traction lately, and for good reason too. All that you need to make a basic pickling solution is to use equal parts of vinegar and water with half part of sugar as well as salt to taste. Afterward, you can mix this solution with any parts from the produce such as the stems and skins to make delicious salad ingredients that could be used later. You can then have these pickles with any mains, or just simply on their own.
Make zesty flavorings of your own
Instead of having to buy flavorings that are rich in harmful preservatives, try making your own seasonings. By using citrus fruits such as orange and lemon, you can turn the bitter rinds into some flavorsome zest. What you will need here is a grater and a jar to save the zest in. Grate the fruit, gather the zest, and store it in a dry place to be used in other dishes later.
Be creative in your choices
The whole concept of root to stalk cooking originated from creativity and the need to utilize natural ingredients to their full capacity. Learn to trust your own instincts and don’t let conventional cooking hold you back. This will help you navigate your way through the initial steps of adapting this style of cooking. After a few months or even weeks into the practice, you will know exactly what to do with each part of any ingredient.
It might take a while for you to determine exactly how to make the most out of the ingredients at hand by trying out unconventional recipes such as a vegetable broth made with scraps, but with time, you will certainly figure it out and be on your path to ensuring that you do not contribute any unwanted food waste to the planet.
Guest post by Sally Collins
About the Author
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.
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