Americans toss between 30-40% of our food every year! This accounts for millions of pounds of food waste, and the food being tossed is typically perfectly useable food. Some estimate that 4.5 pounds of food is thrown away each week per person in the US.
So what is being thrown out and what can we do about it??
Things being thrown out include: leftovers, takeout, “ugly” produce, bones, and bits and ends.
In the coming months I’m going to share some of my favorite Zero Waste recipes with you- ways that my family loves to use up our leftovers and all those funny “bits, ends, and scraps.” Jennie shared a few fun, unique ideas in her blog post here a few weeks ago (lots of these ideas would make lovely and inexpensive gifts too!).
Did you know that many fruits, veggies and herbs can be regrown from scraps? With gardening season right around the corner, why not save your scraps and save some serious money at the grocery store?? We live in a small apartment and have successfully been able to grow many of these in containers as well!
- Green onion- this is my personal favorite! Simply stick the white part into a glass of water, change out the water on a regular basis and give it a bit of sun. The plant will continue to grow fresh green onions!! (You can also re-grow leeks and fennel with this method)
- Garlic- this one is time-consuming but worth it. When your garlic clove starts to sprout those little green sprouts, plant it in some soil. Provide it with regular water and sun. In a few months, green garlic scapes will start growing above the surface. These are delicious and can be cut off and added to foods as well. Cutting these back will also allow the garlic clove to put more energy into growing a nice, big bulb. You can continue the process with a clove from the new bulb.
- Onions- These are one of the easiest to grow from scraps. Simply plant the root end in soil, give it lots of water and sun. If you live some place colder, these will do better indoors in pots.
- Lettuce, Cabbage, Bok Choy-The process is similar to green onions, leeks, and fennel. Cut the stocks and main part of leaves to use as normal and place the white root end in a shallow bowl of water (about an inch is good). Keep it in a sunny spot and regularly spray the top portion to keep moist. In a few days they’ll begin to root at which point they can be planted.
- Celery- Start out as you’d start out the lettuce. The roots will take a bit longer to develop and can then be planted as well!
- Lemongrass- Start out your lemongrass in a cup full of water in full sunlight. Change out the water every couple days and in about a week the roots will develop and you can plant your lemongrass!
- Potatoes- Don’t toss those potatoes once they start to sprout! Cut the “eyes” out in about 2 inch chunks, dry them overnight and then plant 4 inches deep in the soil with the “eye” facing up. Sweet potatoes can also be grown- the easiest way to do so is to plant a sweet potato in moist soil and keep it nice and moist, the sweet potato will soon sprout and begin to grow.
- Ginger- This is one of the easiest to grow. Simply plant a piece of ginger in the soil with the bud facing up, keep moist and in about a week you’ll have enough to harvest. This is an easy plant to keep going!
- Basil, Mint and Cilantro- You can always have fresh herbs on hand! Simply keep some fresh cilantro in a cup in a nice, sunny spot. Change out the water every couple days until nice roots develop and then plant. Be mindful that cilantro can take over your garden, so you many want to plant it in a container.
- Root veggies (carrots, beets, parsnips, etc.)- This process should feel familiar now! Place the tops in a bit of water until green shoots start growing on the top and roots form on the bottom. Once a nice root has grown plant it in the ground.
- Pineapple- Yes, you can grow these at home! Suspend the green top with toothpicks above a container with water, try to keep just the very bottom in the water. Make sure to give it lots of sunshine and change out the water regularly (if it’s warm enough, put it outside). It will take at least a week but roots will form and you can then plant your pineapple! Grow it indoors unless you live some place warm.
Have you ever regrown food from scraps? Are you excited to try? Share in the comments or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Olivia lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and 5 year old son. She enjoys spending time in the mountains, studying about essential oils, natural remedies and herbs, as well as upcycling/ DIY projects. Olivia’s family is almost completely Zero Waste and strives to live with as little impact on the Earth as possible. They are currently downsizing and planning to move into a Tiny House in 2016.