11 Kitchen Hacks to Cut Down on Food Waste in the Tastiest Way
By Douglas Donnellan
With growing awareness of how food waste affects the environment, many conscious eaters are looking for ways to reduce their impact. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the global greenhouse gas emissions from food waste are larger than those of all countries except for China and the U.S. Part of curbing those emissions may take many revolutionary changes in the food system, but individuals can also reduce their own foodprint by using every part of their grocery store haul.
What might be viewed as waste, or even the traditionally less-valued part of an ingredient, can have big flavor and nutrition that home cooks may be ignoring. Preventable food waste also carries a hefty price tag. Data from the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that it costs the average U.S. household of four US$1,800 per year. According to the Australian Government, food waste costs its economy roughly US$14 billion per year while adding millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Considering a nose-to-tail, fin-to-fin and leaf-to-root approach may not only help lower the environmental burden from food waste, but can also add new and exciting flavors to everyday meals without breaking the bank — or the trash bin. Below is a list of 11 underrated parts of foods to help get the most out of your grocery shop.
1. Vegetable Leaves
Carrot tops are often discarded, but they can actually deliver a flavorful and nutritional punch. Chop the leaves finely for this tabbouleh salad, or use them in this waste-free pesto recipe. The same techniques can be used for many other forgotten leaves, such as beet and radish greens, even if they're no longer firm. Steven Satterfield, head chef of Miller Union and mindful eating advocate, states in an interview with Arts ATL, "I see it as a cook's duty to honor the farmer's hard work [from seeding, irrigation, pruning and harvesting, to bringing a product to market] by making the most of what might be considered scraps." Try this recipe for radish green quiche from Satterfield's cookbook, Root to Leaf.
2. Herb Stems
Cilantro leaves can add great flavor and color to many Mexican and Thai dishes, but don't forget about the stems and roots! Most of the flavor is packed into them, and they are a staple in Thai curry pastes. Waste-conscious chefs interchange leaves with the thinly sliced stems in practically any dish. Parsley stems can also be used in the same way, or left whole to add flavor to a vegetable stock.
3. Bones and Fat
The low price and convenience of vegetable oils may be partly to blame for forgetting the value of rendered animal fats. Follow this guide from the permaculture blog, Milkwood, for creating a cooking oil that is full of flavor and made from the parts of meat that are often trimmed away and discarded. After you've trimmed the fat and meat, leftover bones can be used to make stock. This recipe calls for roasting chicken bones and vegetables before simmering in a pot of water. Stock freezes well, and can be used to elevate soups and sauces.
4. Root Vegetable Peels
Peeling potatoes for a smooth mash? Save those skins by turning them into a crispy garnish, similar to the classic potato chip. Rinse the starch off of the peels, dry, add salt and olive oil, and bake until lightly browned. Find a more detailed recipe from the Framed Cooks blog here.
5. Stale Bread
According to food rescue organization OzHarvest, bread is one of the top five wasted foods in Australia. The North London Waste Authority estimates that 254 million edible bread crusts are thrown away across London each year, but considering its versatility, there are many ways to keep bread from landfills. Bread that's been dried out won't make for the best sandwich, but it will make for a much better French toast. Have a food processor? Pulse stale bread to make breadcrumbs, and then use it to coat chicken or eggplant for a waste-free schnitzel. Also, croutons can be made with just about any type of stale bread and can add a hearty crunch to salads.
Western palates have often shied away from any part of the fish that isn't the fillet, but to do so may be a missed opportunity. Fish heads and collars are considered by many top chefs as the very best parts. Follow this guide for getting the most out of your fresh catch or out of what's available at your favorite fish monger. Fish head curry is an iconic dish in many parts of Asia for its great flavor and low cost. If the sight of a fish head is not for you, they can still be used to make seafood stocks and sauces by following this guide. One chef based in Sydney, Australia has been making waves in seafood by showing how to use scales and even eyes in decadent and refined dishes.
7. Bruised Fruit
An apple with a brown spot shouldn't spoil the bunch. Blenders don't mind how imperfect your fruit looks, so smoothies are always a great option for cutting down on waste while getting in some great nutrition. Have more than you can deal with? Follow this guide for making jam, and you'll have a delicious condiment that will keep for months.
8. Cheese and Cheese Rinds
The rind is a terrible thing to waste. The leftover end of a parmesan or pecorino wedge may not be great to grate over a salad or pasta, but it still has flavor locked away. Bring it out by simmering in a pot of soup or broth for a delicious savory, umami boost, or try out these other great applications.
According to a recent scientific review of viticulture in the Douro region published by Intech Open, wine can take a surprisingly large amount of fresh water to produce. Don't send it down the drain if it's been opened for too long. When oxidized, wine takes on a vinegar-like acidity, which may be a bad idea for pouring a glass, but an excellent choice for adding a zing to sauces. Deglazing a pan with a cup of even an older wine can still bring delicious results. Have more leftover wine than you need to make a bolognese sauce? Try this recipe for poached pears with red wine caramel.
10. Broccoli and Cauliflower Stalks
After cutting florets from a head of broccoli or cauliflower, remember that the stalks and stems are just as tasty and nutritious with only a little extra attention. Slice the stems and stalks thinly and add them to the rest of the vegetables for more volume and texture diversity, without emptying your wallet or filling your bin. Otherwise, check out these other great uses for vegetable stalks.
11. Citrus Peels
Before squeezing limes, lemons, oranges, or other citrus fruits, consider the many uses of their peels. Full of vitamin C and flavor, the zest can add brightness to desserts, marinades, and sauces. If you find you'll have way more peel than can be used in a sitting, try this recipe for your own homemade lemon pepper seasoning. Another option would be to dehydrate the peels, keep them in the cupboard, and sprinkle in place of a squeeze of the same fruit. See how with this guide.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Food Tank.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.
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The Navajo Nation covers the corners of three different states. Google Maps
Growing Contribution<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NDY5Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM4MTgyM30.IuQTKQs1stvYYKD6vaVTrqAyoBsUG0BhDvlhxsyKwPA/img.png?width=980" id="02a05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2841f82b1785df5d5ed7bf64d3bb882b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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