‘Tis the season of delicious produce. This time of year, grocery stores and farmers markets are filled with mountains of fresh fruit and piles of vibrant vegetables. In the midst of such abundance it’s hard to resist buying it all. But without proper care, your everyday purchases can easily turn to waste. According to the USDA, an estimated 30-40%* of food produced in this country ends up in the trash. That is an incredible amount of money and natural resources that literally end up at the dump.
At Honest Tea, we do our best to reduce waste, whether it is with our ingredients or our packaging. Fun fact: after our tea leaves are brewed, they are sent to local farms to be utilized for compost. We want to help you do the same at home. Here are a few tips on how you can savor taste and eliminate waste this season and all year round.
Plan It: Although impulse buys can be fun, these are the purchases that most frequently end up in the trash. Before shopping, plan out the meals you want to prepare and make a list of the exact ingredients needed. As you’re shopping, stick to the list so that you buy only the ingredients you will use.
Maximize It: You may not be aware of exactly how much of a food you can use. For example, celery leaves can be used as a garnish for soups and salads, beet tops can become sautéed greens for a side dish, and meat bones can be boiled to add flavor to soup stock. Use each ingredient to its full flavor potential!
Grow It: Even kitchen scraps that seem to have no function have great potential. After using the tops, the roots of celery and romaine lettuce can be placed in a glass of water, potted, and regrown. Garlic cloves, ginger root, and even aging potatoes need only to be placed in some soil and will form new shoots in no time at all. Just one ingredient can create a garden’s worth of produce.
Compost It: For those last bits of food that can’t be eaten or grown, compost is the way to go. Compost is decayed organic material that is used as a fertilizer to harvest new plant life. You can compost everything from vegetable peels and coffee grounds to egg shells and paper towels! Check out more about the basics and benefits of composting here.
Freeze It: If you find yourself with extra ingredients even after the meal is complete, freezing is your new best friend. Vegetables that have been partially cooked and then frozen make great additions to soups. Wash and freeze ripening fruits and berries for smoothies and baked goods. Even leftover entrees can be placed in the freezer and reheated for a later meal.
Repurpose It: Don’t leave your leftovers to rot! Use the grilled chicken from last night’s dinner as a base for a taco salad, make sandwiches with remaining roasted turkey, or transform leftover rice into a sweet breakfast meal with fresh fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Donate It: Finally, for those foods that you simply cannot find any use for, consider donation. Although each facility’s guidelines may vary, many food banks will accept fresh produce, non-refrigerated items, and commercially packaged foods. Not only are you reducing waste, but you also feeding those in need! Find a food bank near you.
What are some practices you follow to reduce your food waste?