In the past few weeks I heard a lot about food waste, and it's true, we do waste far too much food. I just read this zinger, New York Restaurant Is Trying to Shame Home Cooks by Turning Food Scraps Into Fine Cuisine, in the New Republic about Chef Dan Barber's new Greenwich Village restaurant WastED, in which the author's take is that chic dishes from typically unused portions of food will make home cooks feel inadequate. Now, I haven't been to WastED, so I can't say for sure, but any pop-up restaurant that rotates celebrity chefs daily would be intimidating, no matter what kind of food was being served, and yet.... also inspirational and motivating.
When I read about home cooking, food waste and how to use every scrap, I think, well, that's what they did during the depression. That's what they did during World War II, that's what my grandparents did on the farm, that's what my mom did when we were growing up. I actually thought my mom really liked to eat the chicken necks and bread crusts. That's why we saved them just for her. Boy, did she have us fooled.
These days, we do try to reduce food waste in our home, and what waste there is gets composted. We are fortunate to be in a community that mandates curbside composting. But we're not perfect. The biggest challenge for us is not necessarily trying to use up every edible bit of food, but rather, not preparing perishables in time and allowing them to spoil.
With all the attention to food waste, now is a good time as any to renew commitments to buying only what you need, dividing and freezing extras, and expanding the edible portion of foods.
What do I mean by expanding the edible portion of foods? Here are a few illustrations:
1) Shred broccoli stems to make slaw.
2) Use as much of the asparagus stem as possible, not just the tips.
3) Use edible peels in your recipes, instead of peeling potatoes, carrots and apples.
4) Dry out bread loaf heels or stale bread to make croutons or use in cooked recipes.
5) Chop up carrot greens in soup.
You get the gist, and I bet you're doing some things like this already. I wish had a different celebrity chef in my kitchen every night. But, chef or no chef, we all get pretty creative at home preparing meals for our families and trying to keep waste down. We'll just keep at it.