ROOT TO STEM COOK­ING Try our new favourite foodie trend.

This new trend is all about get­ting the most from your veg, to boost your well­be­ing and save the planet

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Jen Shaw

You’ve likely heard of nose to tail cook­ing; it’s the food move­ment that started to make tracks in foodie cir­cles af­ter chef Fer­gus Hen­der­son opened St. JOHN restau­rant in 1994, putting of­fal firmly back on the menu to en­cour­age those of us who eat meat to min­imise waste. Now, as food waste con­cerns meet the rise of plant­based di­ets, ‘root to stem’ is the new trend that prom­ises to both boost our health and help save the planet.

Across the world, chefs are cre­at­ing waste­free menus, from An­drea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina to chef Laura Pen­siero at Gigi Trat­to­ria in New York and Tiny Leaf in Lon­don’s Not­ting Hill. They are all striv­ing to use every last zest, peel, top, skin and husk in their dishes to feed a new gen­er­a­tion of plant eaters who are also con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey by Com­pare The Mar­ket (www.com­parethe­mar­ket.com), more than 3.5 mil­lion Bri­tish peo­ple now de­scribe them­selves as vegan, com­pared with 150,000 in 2006 recorded by the

Vegan So­ci­ety, and more than seven mil­lion are veg­e­tar­ian. The sur­vey, which was sup­ported by Pro­fes­sor Carolyn Roberts of Gre­sham Col­lege, Lon­don, sug­gests that en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns have been key in driv­ing the rise in ve­g­an­ism, as more of us look to re­duce our car­bon foot­print. “From farm to fork, and be­yond, food ac­counts for about 20 per­cent of all of our green­house gas emis­sions,” ex­plains Carolyn. “Es­ti­mates sug­gest that if meat eaters switched to a vegan diet, it would roughly halve to­tal green­house gas emis­sions as­so­ci­ated with food.”

We also need to look at how much we throw away. Ac­cord­ing to WRAP (the Waste and Re­sources Ac­tion Pro­gramme), there’s a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween the food we put

“Root to stem cook­ing shows us that there’s still good­ness in those odds and ends”

in the bin and CO2 emis­sions. “If we stopped bin­ning all the food that could have been eaten, the en­vi­ron­men­tal bene t would be equiv­a­lent to tak­ing one in four cars o the road,” states WRAP. “Sav­ing food saves money and helps to slow down global warm­ing and de­for­esta­tion. Re­duc­ing the amount of food that ends up in the bin also means that you can say good­bye to un­nec­es­sary pack­ag­ing waste. If we all make a few small changes and start us­ing up the food we buy, to­gether we can make a big di er­ence.”

Other ini­tia­tives are start­ing to tackle the prob­lem, too. Food shar­ing app OLIO (www. olioex.com), was set up by en­trepreneurs Tessa Cook and Saasha Ce­les­tial-One to re­duce food waste in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties by shar­ing sur­plus in­gre­di­ents. And it worked – OLIO has had 350,000 users sign up since 2016, and just se­cured $6m in fund­ing.

“It’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that food waste is one of the largest prob­lems fac­ing mankind to­day,” ex­plain Tessa and Saasha. “Glob­ally, over a third of all the food we pro­duce is thrown away, which is worth over $1 tril­lion. But what a lot of peo­ple don’t re­alise is that in the ‘de­vel­oped’ world, over half of all food waste oc­curs in the home, com­pared to just two or three per­cent... at a re­tail store level.”

Ac­cord­ing to OLIO, UK house­holds bin over £12bn of ed­i­ble food per year, at a cost of £700 to the av­er­age fam­ily. More­over, 800 mil­lion hun­gry peo­ple could be fed on just a quar­ter of wasted food from the UK, EU and USA. Fac­tor this in with an in­crease in peo­ple ac­cess­ing food banks (500,000 peo­ple in the UK last year) and a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion, and you can see why food waste is an in­creas­ingly hot topic.

It’s no sur­prise, then, that the con­cept of root to stem is gain­ing mo­men­tum, with for­ward-thinkers com­ing up with cre­ative so­lu­tions. Han­nah McCol­lum is one such en­tre­pre­neur. Pre­vi­ously a pri­vate chef, she founded ChicP (www.chicp.co.uk) in 2015, cre­at­ing hum­mus dips that help pre­vent food waste by us­ing in­gre­di­ents that are con­sid­ered ‘un t’ for su­per­mar­kets but which are com­pletely ed­i­ble.

“Root to stem cook­ing is show­ing us that

there’s still good­ness and avour in those odds and ends,” she says. “It’s cook­ing sus­tain­ably and not un­nec­es­sar­ily wast­ing any of the won­der­ful pro­duce we have. For a lot of peo­ple, it’s prob­a­bly also about be­ing cre­ative and try­ing new avours and tex­tures that they may not have tried be­fore.

“We’ve un­for­tu­nately been ed­u­cated to only use the parts of the plant that we have known to be ed­i­ble, and this has left us with years of wast­ing some of the most in­ter­est­ing and de­li­cious parts. They’re there for a rea­son, so don’t waste them un­less you know that it re­ally can’t be eaten,” she adds.

“We don’t all have to start pick­ling rinds and try­ing to make soup out of onion skins, but sim­ply us­ing up a whole broc­coli or cauliflower when we buy one would be a step in the right di­rec­tion,” she says. “Here’s hop­ing that chang­ing the way we view our veg will get through to the su­per­mar­kets and re­sult in more ‘real’ and nat­u­ral-look­ing food on the shelves.”

A sen­si­ble start­ing point is for us all to re­duce the waste we cre­ate in­di­vid­u­ally. Read on for recipes to help you use up every leaf, stem and stalk in your cook­ing.

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