Getting wasted is growing in popularity. I don't getting trashed. I mean minding your trash. These days getting wasted means becoming more grounded and conscious about the food we eat and utilizing every part of it rather than throwing it out.
The United States is an agricultural wonder abundant in food. Stores stock hundreds of products both farm-raised and man-made. Restaurants and food shops are on every block in cities and towns. Yet, we waste more food than we ingest, and more than 46 million Americans are living with food insecurity (lack of food).
World Food Day, a day of action against hunger, is Oct. 15, 2015. A few facts from World Food USA's website:
Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons).
The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world's annual cereals crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10).
In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.
In the USA, 30-40 percent of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.
We should be aware of food waste every day and give another thought to the unused or uneaten food we toss out. Most everything is reusable in some form. Many well known chefs have become anti waste food waste activists, including Dan Barber and Tom Colicchio.
Issues of food waste have dogged me most of my life. My mother loved to shop for food but was usually too busy to cook all of it. A lot of spoiled food went into the garbage and the smells and sight of it lingered with me. As a single adult I never stocked my refrigerator. I just shopped for what I needed when I wanted it, or I dined out and took home the leftovers. These days I am even more sensitive to trimming our food waste and am learning to rethink the bits and pieces of food left from our home cooking adventures.
There are dozens of ways to trim your waste. Here are six:
Do Over Left Overs: I've always liked to nosh on cold leftovers in the morning (e.g., pasta, salads, chicken). But what about greens that look less lively? These can be chopped and scrambled into eggs, stir fried with rice, mixed in with pasta or baked in a quiche. Leftover meats, chicken and fish can be chopped and mixed into a mixed greens or grains salad or tossed on a home-made pizza. We keep store-bought pizza dough in the refrigerator to make a leftovers pizza for lunch.
Salad To Soup: Wilted greens and salads perk up when blended with plain yogurt or milk for a chilled soup. If you don't like drinking dairy try using nut milk, fresh fruit juice, coconut water, vegetable broth or green or herbal tea for your liquid. A salad to soup works best when the residual dressing is a vinaigrette. I like the added tang in the mixture.
Just Juice It: If vegetables and fruits are just past their peak, toss them in a juicer. The flavors are still rich, and nothing goes to waste. We've made fiber rich crackers and croutons from the residual pulp from kale and spinach juice.
Simmer Down: Chicken stock has long been popular for using left over bones and carcass bits. For vegetable stock, cut up the bits, ends, stalks and skins and simmer with herbs of your choice in a pot of water just covering the vegetables for about an hour. We also reuse the vegetable broth from pans of sautéed greens like kale, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard.
Mash It: Everything tastes better folded into mashed into potatoes. We boil new potatoes and mash with Greek yogurt to taste and TBS olive oil (or butter).
Ugly Fruit = Beautiful Dishes. Imperfect or over ripe fruits and vegetables from the close out bins at supermarkets and farm stands can serve their purpose in smoothies and purées, cakes and pies, juices and vinaigrette. There is even a movement now called #uglyfruit to encourage people to not be wasteful and offer tips.
Trimming your waste makes sense economizing at home and being more sensitive to the global issues of food waste, food insecurity and the environment. So don't trash your dinner. Reheat! Reuse! Repurpose!
Here are some other resources I found to learn more about food waste, how to make smarter changes at home and how to be an advocate on the subject.
Do you have tips to trim your waste?