In my Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Native American culture, we are taught to use only what we need and save the rest for the next seven generations. This way of looking at the world included a focus on making sure that we treat the life that gives us life with honor, gratitude, and respect.
When I think about today’s food system – the $146 billion in wasted food, energy, and resources that occurs from farm to fork – I feel like it’s time to honor my ancestors and take a zero waste approach in my kitchen. Want to join me?
Here Are Some Of My Favorite Zero Waste Tips
#1. – Consume Bone Broth and Veggie Broth
Consuming ancestral broths, like bone broth and vegetable broth allows us to use the whole plant and animal. Food marketing and what appears to be overly abundant produce aisles are designed to make us feel as if we don’t have to think about the future. Food marketing convinces us that we should only eat “choice cuts” of meat, like chicken breast or filet mignon. However, when it comes to animal protein, the bones, jiggly bits and organ meats – the cheapest parts – are also the most nutritious. If we ate nose to tail and consumed bone broth, we’d reduce meat consumption dramatically and stop the inhumane factory farming that fattens up animals to only use the 15% of the animal that is a choice cut.
The same is true for plant consumption. If we saved the skins, odds, and ends of plants, we’d consume less plants and boost our nutrition. We could also stretch our food budgets.
#2. – Corn Cobs
Use corn cobs to flavor chowder, soups or stews. Make sure to choose organic corn, since most other corn on the market is GMO.
#3. – Citrus Peels
Use lemon, lime or orange peels to flavor recipes or to make a wholefood vitamin C supplement. Dehydrate or oven dry at 150 – 200 degrees F. You can then freeze the pieces for recipes or grind up in your blender or spice grinder to make a finely ground vitamin C powder. Store in a glass jar in your cupboard or if you want it to last for over a month, freeze for up to 6 months. One teaspoon per day of the powder will give you the RDA for vitamin C.
#4. – Buy Once and Regrow your Produce
Certain vegetables can actually be regrown from the base that you often throw away! For instance, take the bottom (base) of a bunch of celery and place it, cut side facing up, in a bowl of warm water near a sunny window (change the water every two days). In about five to seven days, you will see yellow, then green, leaves sprouting. At this point, you can put the celery into a container with soil covering all but the small new leaves. Water generously and watch the new celery grow! Lettuce and bok choy can be regrown in much the same way. Green onions are even easier: put the white bases in a jar of water, place it in a sunny area, and watch as they regrow very quickly. Make sure to change the water every couple of days.
#5. – Make Your Own Coconut Milk and Reuse the Pulp for Coconut Flour
To make your own coconut milk, get a bag of shredded, organic unsweetened coconut shreds with no sulfites added. Boil 3 cups of water and allow to cool for 1 minute, then pour over 2 cups of shredded coconut. Let this sit until the water is lukewarm. Put it into a blender and blend up for a few minutes. Strain with a very fine mesh strainer or through a nut milk bag. You now have coconut milk! Save the pulp and dehydrate until dry, then grind up in your blender or spice grinder to use as coconut flour.
What are your favorite zero waste tips?
Share your ideas in comments!
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