Before you read the rest of this blog, we have one small activity for you. Walk to your refrigerator and take a look at what’s inside. How many of those items are packaged foods or groceries packed in plastic? Do you ever wonder if it’s possible to reduce their amount but are unsure of ways to do so? We’ve got you covered!
Root to stem cooking - a cooking technique that uses every part of the vegetable/fruit in your dishes. This involves the roots, leaves, seeds, peels and the stems. It is one of the most effective ways to uptake your nutrient intake whilst reducing your food waste at the same time. We were schooled on this art by our dear friend, Sarah Edwards, the founder of Copper + Cloves, a resource hub that offers you delicious recipes using local and sustainable ingredients.
Did you know that all the peeling and scraping of our produce, we end up using less than half of most vegetables and fruits we buy to eat and cook? Think about the nutritional benefits we’re missing out on! What nutritional benefits, you ask? The roots of vegetables are a great source of healthy carbohydrates, which experts say should make up 50% of our nutrient intake. Speaking of root vegetables, onion and garlic peels provide an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, and numerous antioxidants.
Some of you may be wondering, “Don’t we already follow this practice at home?” You’re right! Indian cooking is known for incorporating the peels, roots and stems into their dishes. Banana peels, for example, are often used to make crispy fritters, their stems are used in ‘palyas’, ‘poriyals’ or ‘sabzis’, and finally as leaves for idlis (rice dumplings) to make ‘Kadubus’.
There’s also the more popular dishes like salads, french fries with the skin (yes, you can leave the skin on while preparing french fries!) and vegetable stews (a delicious, resourceful way to consume peels of most vegetables)
While canned/packaged vegetables have been proven to contain similar nutritional values as that of a regular vegetable, they almost always contain simply the core of the vegetable. And then there’s the added packaging that comes with it, which we strive to avoid, whenever possible.
Right from our farmers to us consumers, we’re all guilty of wasting a considerable amount of food at every stage. Approximately $1 trillion of food is lost or wasted every year — accounting for roughly one-third of the world’s food. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reversing this trend would preserve enough food to feed 2 billion people . Incorporating this technique of cooking from root to stem, will not only go a long way in terms of reducing our food waste but also do wonders for our bodies and our pockets, given its budgetary convenience.