Avoid Produce Waste with a “Nose-To-Tail” Approach

Fresh Veg

Oooh, it’s that time of the year! Farmers markets are reopening and going strong as early spring produce comes of age. But as I’ve started to buy more of this good stuff, I’ve noticed an increase in my food waste. I bought fresh spring onions and tossed the green tops (guiltily). I didn’t use all of the greenhouse-grown tomatoes I bought at the farmers market — a few went to waste. (Crap.)

So at my house, we will start paying more attention to the ends we cut off zucchini and carrots and the bits of produce we normally wouldn’t eat, like onion tops, celery stumps, and assorted stems. Think of it as “nose-to-tail” cooking for fresh produce. Let’s seek to use all parts of the vegetable.

Here are two no-fail ways to turn waste into wonderful:

  1. Make Soup. Most unused vegetable chunks can contribute to the flavor of a homemade stock or broth, whether chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetable. Keep a zip top bag in the freezer and toss in leftover or not-so-fresh chunks of onions, carrots, celery, greens, and herbs. Come up with your own flavor combos by adding unconventional stock-making ingredients, like lemons, squash, or peppers. Homemade broth is easy to make, stores neatly in the freezer, thaws quickly, and tastes great. Take a look at this simple chicken broth recipe and some creative combinations for vegetable broth.
  2. Make Soil. I’ve tried composting, and I have to admit it’s not one of my strengths. Compost takes some attention, but you can invest as much time as you have and still get results. The less you tend your compost pile, the longer it will take to turn into a nutritious addition to your garden, but eventually, you’ll have black gold. Take a look at this infographic that outlines composting basics.

How To Compost InfographicFor more ways to use the “unusable” parts of your produce, read this post from Andrea at our sister site, Vibrant Wellness Journal. We’ve written a lot about reducing food waste, but it bears repeating now that spring is bringing us the good stuff.

What’s the most unusual way you use produce parts people normally don’t eat?

Infographic courtesy of PBS, Vegetable image courtesy of mhaller1979/CC


3 thoughts on “Avoid Produce Waste with a “Nose-To-Tail” Approach”

  1. I use past their prime things in my smoothies all the time — avocados, spinach, etc. I also put the stems from cilantro, basil, or other herbs in the smoothies too. Finally, I use the leftover water from cooking beans as the liquid in my smoothies to get all of their vitamins and nutrients!

    1. Hi Jennifer. What great ideas! I hate to toss the liquid my beans have cooked in, because it’s so delicious. I’ll have to give this tip a try.

  2. I used to throw out the broccoli stalks and the leafy tops of celery and bunches of beetroot- now I chop them finely and add to soups, and stir fries.
    I freeze bananas that look like they are getting too ripe and use them in baking to replace egg at a later date, or mashed to replace rice in sweet curries.
    All tops and tails of vegetables go into a bag in the freezer when full they are to be simmered into stock for soups and casseroles/ curries.
    Anything else goes to feed my chickens.

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