FIGHT­ING FOOD WASTE

Stems, peels and other scraps add de­li­cious new flavours to old dishes

The Delhi News-Record - - FOOD - LAURA BREHAUT

When you look at beet stems or or­ange peels, do you see scraps or culi­nary build­ing blocks?

From trim­mings and tops to skin and scales, home cooks have much to gain by re­con­sid­er­ing byprod­ucts. Af­ter all, it’s not food waste un­til it hits the bin. With a fresh per­spec­tive, pre­vi­ously over­looked in­gre­di­ents can add new di­men­sions of flavour and tex­ture.

By now, you’ve likely seen the sta­tis­tics. Ac­cord­ing to Love Food Hate Waste Canada, nearly half of the coun­try’s food waste oc­curs at home, where 63 per cent of trashed food is per­fectly ed­i­ble. The av­er­age Cana­dian house­hold tosses up­ward of $1,100 worth of food per year, which adds up to more than $17 bil­lion na­tion­wide.

Chefs are uniquely suited to tackle the is­sue of avoid­able food waste, says Ali­son Tozzi Liu, the James Beard Foun­da­tion’s (JBF) vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and ed­i­to­rial.

“Chefs in restau­rants use all parts of in­gre­di­ents. Par­tially be­cause they give a lot of flavour but par­tially be­cause restau­rants op­er­ate on such slim profit mar­gins. You don’t just throw away half of some­thing. You use it. You use all of it.”

For its new cook­book, Waste Not (Riz­zoli New York, 2018), the non­profit culi­nary arts or­ga­ni­za­tion en­listed alumni of its Chefs Boot Camp for Pol­icy and Change to ed­u­cate home cooks on thrift and cre­ativ­ity in the kitchen. Chefs in­clud­ing Tif­fany Derry and Rick Bay­less con­trib­uted 100 full-use recipes and cooking tips, which cast oft-un­der­val­ued in­gre­di­ents in a new light.

Tough kale stems be­come but­tery crack­ers. An abun­dance of cores, leaves and stalks is turned into a flavour-rich kim­chee. Protein­packed whey, a byprod­uct of cheese- and yo­gurt-mak­ing, gives grits or any other grain “an ex­tra nu­tri­tional and gus­ta­tory boost.” An or­ange and al­mond cake from food writer and cook James Beard uses the whole fruit, flesh, pith and peel. Eg­gshells are the only waste from the en­tire recipe.

Derry, a Top Chef All- Star based in Dal­las, Texas, was in­spired to get in­volved with the is­sue af­ter learn­ing the sheer vol­ume of food that ends up in Amer­i­can land­fills — up to 40 per cent of all pro­duce grown an­nu­ally.

Last year, she met with mem­bers of Congress to push for changes in food-waste la­belling, and she’s also part of JBF’s new multi-year move­ment, Waste Not Wed­nes­day, which aims to en­cour­age peo­ple to make small changes one day a week.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is a re­ally big part of it. I think peo­ple just don’t know how and what to do. ‘ You tell me to use the food and that I shouldn’t waste it, but what do I do with it? Are you go­ing to come cook it for me, chef?’ ” Derry says with a laugh.

“Peo­ple some­times think that it’s the whole world. You’re like, ‘It’s just so big.’ But you just do your part. You con­cen­trate on what you can do and who you af­fect, and that’s when the change hap­pens.” Recipes from Waste Not by the James Beard Foun­da­tion, pub­lished by Riz­zoli New York.

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