Using Our Resources Well
Since we have had the recent health crisis which has required many to stay home, the amount of home cooking has increased. The sale of yeast and flour has skyrocketed as people turn to baking their own bread and other foods. Social media is flooded with stories of the different dishes people are making now that they can't eat out and are home all of the time.
It is good to see this change and hopefully, this will help reduce the huge problem of food waste that occurs today. The glut of food in our country, and specifically that of corn and soy, causes so much to be wasted. This overabundance has caused farmers to begin feeding it to animals that were traditionally raised on grass - cows, sheep, horses - as a way to find a use for it as well finding ways to add it to other foods and even turn it into biodiesel. They continue to raise so much because they receive government money for raising it, despite the over-abundance.
So, what can we do to avoid wasting food? In our house, we have implemented a few habits that have helped us to reduce food waste as well as nurture our soil in the process.
We have 2 small buckets kept in an out-of-the-way spot in our kitchen - one for scraps for our chickens and pigs, and another for compost - banana and orange peels, egg shells and the like. We keep them covered with a dish towel and empty them each day. The small amount that we add to our compost each day greatly enriches our soil. My father practiced organic gardening beginning in the 60's and there was always a composting bin in our backyard. His vegetable gardens were much admired in the neighborhood. If you don't have animals, just add all of your scraps to your compost. You can have a compost collection on a small back porch or balcony, and, when it's ready, add it to a large flower pot where you can plant more vegetable seeds.
Another thing we try to do is to take a look each week into the refrigerator vegetable drawers and see what needs to be used. This week, I see that I need to use up some cabbage (coleslaw, perhaps), jalapenos (jalapeno poppers which will make my husband very happy!), cucumbers, and zucchini. If I can't get to that zucchini, I can always shred it and freeze it. I then take a look at the fruit bowl and the pantry where I keep winter squashes, onions, and potatoes. I make sure to use what it is about to go bad first. Maybe that is an apple crisp with some apples that are beginning to be soft, a frittata with zucchini, potatoes, onion, some kale and lots of eggs and cheese, butternut squash soup with some leftover broth and a squash that needs to be used. Pasta is a good base for lots of sautéed vegetables - zucchini, eggplant, onion, peppers, broccoli - add what you have that needs to be used, toss with olive oil and parmesan cheese. One of my favorite meals!
It's important to keep track of your leftovers - eating the oldest ones first. Leftovers make nice lunches and some are nice to add to other meals. I usually have some cooked chicken in the refrigerator for many uses - burritos, soup, quesadillas, casseroles, etc. Roast extra vegetables to have to add to salads, or soups.
Another little tip is to take 15-30 minutes once a week to prep vegetables. Peel and cut carrots, trim brussel sprouts and broccoli, wash and cut kale. This is a gift you give yourself because that little bit of time will make cooking dinner so much easier. You will feel like half the work is all done and cooking will be a breeze!
Please, share any ways to cut down on food waste with us as we're always looking for new ideas!