Posts Tagged ‘food waste’

Food Power

October 3, 2013

4103100113

There are lots of ways to cut back on food waste. We have written about many of them, from up cycling leftovers at home, to the new business launch that uses expired produce that is still edible to provide low cost options for groceries and prepared foods.

Today’s post focuses on another big retailer who is doing their part to make use of  excess products.

Kroger has started using the food waste from its subsidiaries, Ralphs and Food 4 Less, to power its distribution center.

Previously, the stores trucked its 150 tons of food waste to their distribution center for consolidation, and then trucked it to a composter, 100 miles away.

To make better use of the food waste, the company has installed an anaerobic digestive system that allows them to convert food into biogas, providing power to run the facility.

The food goes through a blending system, which removes all inorganic materials left behind from packaging, liquefies it, and blends it with water from the on-site creamery.

It is then converted to biogas, and the excess water is purified and recycled. The remaining nutrient filled physical material is used for composting.

While the process is in an early stage, it has been so successful that Kroger is looking for ways to expand it to other markets.

Every little bit counts, and this could have a huge impact in the future. Hopefully, other large grocery stores will be able to learn from Kroger’s successful program.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr, Instagram and Pinterest too!

Edible Waste

September 23, 2013

Did you know that 40% of our food gets thrown out? You might, since I have written about food waste here before.

garbage,or soup?

Watching the neighbors sifting through the bags outside of the grocery store across the street, searching for edible produce and newly expired dairy that has just been put out for trash collection brought the issue to mind once again. These are not homeless people. They are average Janes and Joes who are either budget conscious, into sustainability or both.

Doug Rauch, the former CEO of Trader Joe’s is setting out to repurpose edible but not necessarily saleable food before it ends up in the trash, by opening a new market called “The Daily Table.”

IMG_1761

Rauch is tackling the issue of food waste by taking recently expired, blemished and over-stocked items, and prepping it and cooking it for sale to be used in what he refers to as “speed scratch” cooking. He will offer the items at prices comparable to fast food.

The Daily Table plans to open their hybrid stores; a mix of restaurant and grocery store, in underserved inner city areas across the country, in an effort to provide healthy, sustainable food options at a low cost.

In the meantime, urban foragers will have to continue using a less dignified way to utilize food waste. After all it seems, one man’s trash is another man’s dinner.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr, Instagram and Pinterest too!

Unrecipe of the Week: Waste Case Edition

April 1, 2012

In the spirit of avoiding food waste, I saved last night’s sauteed kale with shallots and converted it into a pesto topping for salmon.

It was a small amount; exactly the amount I would have tossed out a week ago, since it wasn’t really enough for another meal. Being conscious of food waste, I became creative with my leftovers and found a way to enhance our meal with something that was already there.

It’s easy to take almost any strong flavored green vegetable and make it into pesto. I have used broccoli rabe and spinach in the past, as an alternative to the traditional basil.

Tonight, I put 1/2 a garlic clove ( remember it was a tiny amount of kale) and a tiny handful of pistachio nuts into the food processor, with some parmesan cheese and the kale. I added a little drizzle of olive oil to thin it down, until it became a thick paste.

After broiling the salmon for a few minutes, I spread the pesto mixture over it, and cooked it for a couple more minutes.

It was flavorful and added a nice and healthy touch to a menu staple that we eat several times per week.

What do you have on hand that you can use to make a mundane meal more interesting?

Here is recipe for a more traditional take on pesto. Use it as a guide to make your own innovative variations, based on what you have on hand.

Traditional Pesto:

1 bunch of basil leaves (about 2 cups)

2 garlic cloves

1/3 cup pignoli nuts* ( or walnuts)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup olive oil (or more if needed)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the basil, garlic and nuts into the food processor,and process until finely chopped.

With the motor running, drizzle the olive oil into the bowl until the mixture forms a thick paste. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If serving over pasta, heat sauce in a pan until warm . If necessary, add a little of the pasta cooking water to thin it down. If you like a creamier texture, add a little heavy cream tot the sauce. Toss with the hot pasta and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Waste Case Project: Weekend Wrap-Up

March 31, 2012

The week is coming to an end, and the Waste Case Project diary is coming to a close.
As a grand finale in using my food to the fullest, I had the chicken stock I made last night with a bit of shredded chicken and diced carrots for lunch, bringing the meal toll for one lowly little roasted chicken up to 6!

Tonight, a little celebratory take-out and a glass of wine (which somehow never goes to waste around our house) while I reminisce about the project…

The week has been an eye-opener. Here are a few of the big take-aways from my experience:

1. Consciousness is half the battle. I knew we were wasting food, but never really thought about how much we were tossing out needlessly. The idea that others are starving and we are lucky enough to live where food is plentiful and accessible, is a gift which should not be taken for granted. Thinking about the issue inspired me to find ways to decrease our food waste.

2. Taking inventory of exactly what you have laying around that is still fresh and usable is the key to avoiding waste. Planning around those items, instead of starting fresh every day, makes a huge difference in what gets eaten and what gets tossed out.

3.Proper wrapping and storing of food makes a big difference in it’s taste and freshness. Leaving the seed in the leftover avocado and wrapping it well, and drying the washed lettuce and rolling it in a paper towel before bagging it are just examples of how I increased the shelf life of our food.

4. Shoving food down your throat so it “doesn’t go to waste” is worse than throwing it in the dumpster. Eating excess food  and stuffing yourself leads to weight gain and health issues. If you have to choose between your food “going to waste and going to your waist” I choose the former every time.

5. Leftovers can be boring. Just reheating last night’s dinner held very little appeal for me. Up-cycling last night’s dinner was an interesting challenge. I could reinvent that roasted chicken in 100 different ways, yet I rarely tried. Now I know that a roasted chicken means at least 2 dinners, not one. The creativity will come in the second night.

5. Nobody is perfect. There will be food that goes to waste. But, just because this experiment is over, it doesn’t mean we will go back to our old ways. I will be a conscious shopper and chef, now that I have seen what a difference a little planning can make.

6. The only thing more frightening to your husband than the thought that his wife will turn into her mother, is the fear that she will turn into his mother. My mother in law would save a bread crust in the hopes that someone would eat it. She kept everything way too long and thought the freezer was a cryogenic crypt that preserved things for perpetuity. While there is definitely a limit to my food scrap hoarding, she was definitely on to something! Know when to say when. and if it seems at all ‘iffy” I say toss it, rather than risk illness.

7. Indigo Jones readers are loyal and loved having something to follow everyday. I promise to find something new to pique your interest, and post more often, even if it’s just a little tidbit that your might find of interest.
Thanks for joining me on this journey !

Waste Case Project: Day 5

March 30, 2012

I am starting to get the hang of this! Tonight, I only spent $5.99 at the grocery store, vs. the usual $40 or so.

I used all the lettuce I washed and chopped yesterday,( the arugula hung in there one more day!) part of the avocado from Tuesday (which kept surprisingly well when stored properly), some cheese I had on hand, some of last night’s roasted  chicken and a chunk of green apple that has been sitting around feeling lonely in a basket in the kitchen. I tossed it in some olive oil and  aged balsamic vinegar and  “Viola!” a great dinner salad using all leftovers…woo hoo!

The others had the chicken shredded and cooked with bar-b-que sauce on whole wheat buns with potato chips; my 2 purchased items for the day. Bailey had the rest of my apple and some yogurt, and Spencer put the last of the avocado on his sandwich, and shared my salad as a side dish.

The remnants of the chicken are now simmering in a pot, with yesterday’s onion and 2 carrots, accompanied by some parsley I discovered in the produce drawer (score!). It won’t yield much, but a few cups of chicken stock can always be popped into the freezer and used anytime a recipe calls for it.

My husband likened me to a “depression era housewife” which is fodder for a whole other blog post, but he has a point. We need to start thinking of food as a precious commodity, and use it to it’s fullest. Today I learned to plan around what I had that was fresh and usable, and buy around it if necessary. If I wasn’t trying to please a picky eater, I wouldn’t have needed to purchase anything to make a fresh, nutritious and tasty meal.

Tomorrow’s challenge: What’s for dinner? The produce and meat is gone, so our next meal starts with a clean slate. Although I might be able to use that chicken stock for something….

photo: Glasshouse Images

Waste Case Project: Day 4

March 29, 2012

Tonight was the big test…a whole roasted chicken! Every week, I buy a whole chicken, and of course we never finish it. I’m told that it is going to get eaten for lunch, but every Saturday, I throw away what is left. Today, I decided to take the “chicken challenge” and make sure it gets eaten. I personally packed up the leftovers, so that I could assess the remnants. There is a huge amount left, and easily enough for dinner tomorrow night. I bought 2 organic carrots and an onion, thinking I would make a small pot of chicken stock with the leftovers,and use up some herbs festering in the produce drawer. Will there be enough chicken left to bother, or will we actually eat it all? If I don’t make the stock, what becomes of the onion and carrots? A new dilemma!

I cleaned and chopped all the lettuce I bought, including the arugula that is miraculously still hanging in there after a few days, and put what I didn’t think we needed in a plastic bag with a paper towel in it to absorb the moisture. There is plenty for another meal,and the work is already done for me!

I even used a rubber spatula to get ALL the yogurt out of the container, instead of tossing those last few spoonfuls.

Awareness of the problem is proving to be half the battle for me. Planning for waste is helping me eliminate waste.

Stay tuned to find out what REALLY happens to that roasted chicken!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Waste Case Project: Day 3

March 28, 2012

Last night, I was a careful shopper and chef, using what I had to enhance what I bought. Some wanted tacos, and I used the shredded mozzarella cheese and arugula that I already had on hand, instead of purchasing regular lettuce and jack cheese, and having all 4 items go to waste. There is still some left, and the arugula is looking a little sadder than I’d like it to. One more day and it’s going to be history. I cut the avocado in half, and wrapped the unused portion with the seed left in, to prevent it from going brown.
I had salmon, cut to a single serving, and literally bought 5 small mushrooms and a handful of  shredded kale from the”prepped and ready to cook” section at Whole Foods. While it might have cost more per pound than buying a full bunch of kale, I purchased only what I could eat in one serving, so it ended up being a better choice.

Lesson of the day: Bigger is not always better! Buying in quantity often seems like a bargain, but spending more per oz. for a smaller amount and not wasting the rest is a better deal in the long run for your wallet, your waistline and the environment. Being conscious of food waste is helping me think through grocery shopping, and causing me to be more selective about what will actually get consumed in it’s entirety.

Stay tuned: it’s only Wednesday!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Waste Case Project: Day 2

March 27, 2012

Last night, I made a real effort to use what I had on hand.

I chopped up the last of the lettuce from a previous dinner, tossed it in an aged balsamic vinaigrette made right in the bowl ( no leftovers there!) only to throw away the remaining portion at the end of the meal. I find this happens a lot when I have guests, and dressed salad is a soggy mess the next day. A good solution would be to serve dressing on the side, or only dress a small part of the salad, and replenish as it gets eaten.

I took some leftover tomato puree that would have normally gone by the wayside, and spiced it up as a dipping sauce for B’s breaded shrimp. Of course there was way more than she could eat, and it ended up down the drain anyways, but I felt proud that I am heading down the right track.

I just threw out the sorry remains of a container of cottage cheese, with just a couple of bites left  in it. I am not going to become one of those people who eats up every morsel and gains 10 pounds, just so things don’t go to waste. In my mind, throwing unwanted food into my stomach is worse than throwing it in the trash.

This is a work in progress, but awareness is half the battle. Let’s see what tonight’s dinner holds in store.

To be continued…

Waste Case Project: Day 1

March 26, 2012

It’s 9:00 a.m. and I have already tossed a few slices of turkey which had been hanging around since early last week, an opened and never resealed bag of granola lurking in the cupboard, and a partially consumed container of fat free ricotta cheese. I re-wrapped and tucked a piece of fresh ginger into the produce drawer of the fridge, hopefully extending it’s life, while not attracting fruit flies. Not an auspicious start to a new week,and a new goal. The refrigerator is almost empty, and I boldly used some full fat milk and low fat vanilla yogurt, when I prefer skim milk and fat free plain Greek yogurt. Will I end up giving up my own standards of eating just to save on waste? I certainly hope not!

Clearly, food shopping is on tonight’s agenda, so hopefully,I will buy what we can use quickly, and in it’s entirety.

Stay tuned….

Waste Case

March 25, 2012

As food prices soar and more people in the world go hungry, I am more conscious than ever of the amount of food that gets thrown out each week.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the average American household throws out between $500 and $2,000 worth of food per year.

I suspect the waste in my household is even greater.

I admit to being a freshness fanatic, and rarely a day goes by that I do not hit at least one market to purchase groceries. Even with a “ buy as needed” attitude, there is a ridiculous amount of waste in our kitchen.

I set out to do a little research as to how long food can be kept before it goes bad, and I had a few surprises. Foods last longer in the refrigerator than I assumed, and the freezer does not extend food life indefinitely, as I had been previously told. Here are a few common foods, and their shelf life both refrigerated and frozen:

Food Refrigerator Freezer
Hot dogs; opened 1 week 1-2 months
Deli lunchmeat; freshly sliced or from an open package 3-5 days* although the deli manager at Whole Foods recommends 3 days only 1-2 months
Ground meats; raw 1-2 days 3-4 months
Raw poultry 1-2 days 9months for pieces/12 months if whole
Red meat; raw 3-5 days 4-6 months for chops / 6-12 months for steaks + roasts
Soups and Stews 3-4 days 2-3 months frozen
Hard cheese 3-4 weeks Not recommended
Soft cheese 1 week Not recommended
Ice cream 1-2 months
Mayo 2 months once opened Not recommended
Cooked leftovers 3-4 days Varies
Butter 1 month Up to 9 months
Milk 1 week Not recommended
Eggs 3 weeks Not recommended

This week, I am committed to reducing our family’s food waste. While I may not be comfortable keeping things around as long as this chart dictates as safe, I will be more cognizant of recycling our leftovers quickly into healthy and tasty dishes that we can consume, instead of toss.

Stay tuned for this week’s adventures as I blog about how I reduce food waste creatively.

Join the conversation, and post some of your ideas in the comment section.

photo: Glasshouse Images


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 372 other followers