It is important to celebrate the Earth for many reasons. It provides us with a place to live and food to eat. The world does a lot for us, so today (and everyday!) is our chance to give back to the Earth. Here are some easy solutions to reduce waste and keep our Earth clean from our spring “Green” issue.
Trash To Treasure Eating
Do you know the expression “waste not, want not”? We like to expand the idea of what parts of plants and vegetables are edible. That way we waste less food and enjoy a greater range of flavors and textures.
- Stalks: Broccoli stalks are sweet and delicious: chop and add them in with the heads, or grate them solo into a raw slaw. Stripped kale stems can be sliced, then cooked until tender with olive oil, garlic, and a splash of water.
- Leaves: Dark green leek tops can be steamed, buttered, and served as a side, or slivered and added to stocks and soups. Any healthy-looking broccoli or cauliflower leaves can be chopped and used along with the florets. Celery leaves from inside the bunch are a great go-to herb: chop them to flavor a cooked dish or salad, or to garnish soup.
- Stems: When you’re using soft herbs such as cilantro and parsley, their crisp, flavorful stems can be chopped and added right into your dish, or slivered for a soup garnish.
- Seeds: You can roast and eat the seeds of any winter squash, not just pumpkins. Simply clean and dry them, then toss them with a bit of oil and salt on a baking sheet and roast in a 300 degree oven until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through. Snack away—or use the seeds as a garnish.
- Zest: There’s an even more intense punch of flavor in citrus rind than in its juice. If you’re following a juice-only recipe, take a minute first to wash and grate the zest of the orange, lemon, or lime into a small jar of olive oil. Shake it up, and you’ll have a tasty citrus oil to use when making salad dressing.
- Tops: Clean, healthy beet, turnip, or radish greens can be cooked like spinach—with or without their chopped roots—in a little olive oil with a chopped garlic clove and a splash of water.
Do the Rot Thing!
It’s true, we like to eat every part of the vegetable that we can. But some parts you really can’t eat, or don’t want to. That’s where composting comes in! To make compost, you put fruit and vegetable scarps (as well as eggshells, coffee grounds and dead leaves) in a special outdoor container and let them decompose—which basically means rot. Over time, thanks to heat, worms, and microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, they turn into rich soil (compost) that’s perfect for growing more vegetables in! Composting also reduces the amount of trash we dump, so it’s a great activity for people who care about the planet.
For an introduction to composting at home, go to www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home. If you can’t compost at home, or you live in a city, see if there are any compost drop-off sites nearby, or go to findacomposter.com to search by zip code.
Storing your food in waste-free containers is a great for the environment. Invest in reusable containers to store snacks or prepared food such as Stasher, OXO, U-Konserve, or Built rather than using plastic or paper bags.