Posts Tagged ‘food waste’

Composting 101

March 7, 2018

New York City is taking a stance on food waste and has begun to roll out what will eventually be a mandatory composting program.  For those of us new to the composting world, here are a few do’s and don’ts to help make the transition smoother.

Why compost?

When food waste is mixed into our regular garbage, it sits in the landfills and gives off greenhouse gasses. When composted, our organic waste can be used to add nutrients and improve soil quality for our street trees, parks, and urban farms.


What do I compost vs. recycle vs. toss in the garbage?

Compostable items are food scraps, such as vegetable and fruit peels, tea bags, coffee grounds and egg shells. Dry food items including bread, cereal, and pasta, are also compostable. Animal products, including meat, bones, and feces, as well as other greasy products are not. It is still important to separate glass, plastic and the like for recycling, and non- compostable food waste as true garbage.

How do I avoid getting fruit flies or vermin from my kitchen compost, and prevent my kitchen from smelling bad?

While there are plenty of compost bucket options at all price ranges out there, it’s not really necessary to purchase something. A large yogurt container with a tight-fitting lid, a big mason jar, or even a zip-lock bag works fine. If you don’t have easy access to a drop off point or your building is not providing a communal compost bin for its tenants, you can put the food waste in the freezer to eliminate odors as the waste starts to break down until you can get it to the compost site.

Doing the right thing for our planet is not always the easiest choice, but it certainly is the best choice. If your building is not yet part of the compost program, here is a list of drop off points around the city so that you can participate in the meantime.

photos: Glasshouse Images




Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Is It Time To Toss Those Leftovers

November 28, 2017


It is sad to even think about throwing away the delicious remains of your Thanksgiving meal, but if you still have leftovers lingering in your refrigerator, it’s time to bid them farewell. Yes, food safety trumps food waste every time.

Turkey lasts about 3-4 days well wrapped and refrigerated. Same for stuffing provided it has been removed from the turkey before it was stored. Gravy is good for only a day or two, but most cranberry sauces should last up to 2 weeks. Mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes should be good for about 3-5 days. Pumpkin pie lasts 3-4 days and apple should be refrigerated within 2 days if it has been cut.

Freezing certain items are an option but don’t freeze just for the sake of freezing. My freezer sometimes becomes a receptacle for things I don’t know what to do with and in the end, never get thawed and used. As unpopular an opinion as this is, if you don’t see yourself eating that cranberry sauce in the next several weeks, let it go.

Goodbye leftovers! We shall never speak of you again(until next time).

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Save Those Scraps

July 26, 2016


When peeling and trimming vegetables, a lot of waste is created. Carrot tops and peels, and ends of onions; the list goes on and on. Rather than throw them away, why not start a scrap bin in the freezer and use it later to make stock? This concept also applies to chicken bones, or shells and skin from seafood as well. Just be sure to store them separately. When it’s time to make stock, toss in your scrap bag of vegetables and either the chicken, meat or seafood bones, and you’re good to go!

You will not only help save the planet, but you and your stock will be just a little richer in the process!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Parmesan Rinds

January 26, 2016



In our continuing quest to eliminate food waste, we’ve been saving the rinds from Parmesan cheese to add flavor to soups and stews.
This weekend, we were making our creamy cauliflower soup with parmesan crisps and realized that this was the perfect spot for those rinds. This  (un) recipe calls for adding a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to the pot towards the end of cooking. Tossing in the rinds while it cooks instead, allows the cheese to slowly melt into the soup, delivery a savory and salty flavor.

The rinds can be kept in the freezer, and you can take out just enough to fill your needs.
Try tossing them into pasta sauces, ratatouille or vegetable soups.

Drop a rind into the sauce or soup while it is cooking, and allow the cheese to slowly melt into the dish. If there is still a solid portion when you’re ready to serve it, remove the rind and discard it.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Its The Pits

January 18, 2016


We’ve written about food waste here before, even documenting a weeks worth of efforts in trying to reduce ours.  So often, the parts of our food that we discard are among the healthiest.
We, and every other food writer and healthy eating guru has waxed poetic about the glory that is an avocado. The versatile fruit is delicious, sliced, diced, and smashed. Avocado toast acheived cult-like status in last year, and it can even be used as a substitute for butter in vegan baked goods. But did you know that the seed contains over 70% of the avocado’s antioxidants? Neither did we!

To reap the benefits, place the avocado pit into the food processor and grind it into a fine powder. Add it to your morning smoothie, or sprinkle on oatmeal or add to salad dressing for a jolt of antioxident rich fiber.

To read more on this subject, head over to One Green Planet.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Food Power

October 3, 2013


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

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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.”


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.

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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

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