Celebrate Earth Day and learn how to reduce being in the habit of throwing away perfectly good food! Discover why reducing food waste is not only good for your food budget but also for is good for the earth!
Why Reduce Food Waste?
There are lots of great reasons to do it! Did you know that 18% of the trash in landfills comes from leftover food? That is equal to about 40 tons of food are thrown out each year (10 billion tons of the food is left is the farm fields that is perfectly good to eat). I came across a great resource about food waste called Keeping Food Out of the Landfill from the Harvard Law & Policy Clinic, check out the link below.
Besides wasting money, there are other great reasons not to waste food. One of these is the fact that food left in the fields could be gleaned to share with people who may be food insecure. There are several groups that glean food leftover in fields and share it with the community who needs it. One of these groups is the Society of Saint Andrews. Another serious problem about food waste is that food thrown in a landfill produces methane gas when it is decayed which has 21% more warming potential as carbon dioxide gas. This gas can have a negative impact on our environment. You can read a little bit more about the problems with food producing methane here.
To truly reduce food waste, try a truly, preventive approach:
Reduce. Re-use. Recycle!
1.Reduce: With some careful meal planning, each of us can plan meals that we will need so when we go to the grocery store, we don’t purchase excess that may we will not use that will go to waste. If this thinking ahead approach does not come naturally for you, there are a lot of great resources to help you get started! Another great way to reduce is also purchasing minimally packaged foods so there will be less paper and plastic to be thrown away.
2. Re-Use: When I think about re-using, I think about making a vegetable broth with unused vegetable scraps like potato peels, celery roots, and herb stems. However, it is also important to find creative uses for edible portions of vegetables that we often throw away like carrot tops, potato peels, melon rinds, citrus peels and apple peels and I found so many delicious ways to turn some of those food and vegetable scraps into something delicious.
So I wanted to share for you to try that I hope that you will love. How often do we throw away the stems and even the greens when we prepare only the roots of beets? This inspired this Roasted Beet Risotto recipe! When I think about beets, I often think about spring, but beets also can be grown in the summer, fall and even winter in some regions.
To make this creamy dish, I used arborio rice. You can find out about this variety here.
Roasted Beet Risotto
I used a mixture of golden and purple beets to make this beautiful risotto! And in addition, I chopped up the beet stems and greens to put in there also. If you scrubbed the beets real well, go ahead and roast and use the entire beet root in the recipe. I peeled the beets this time and used them to dye Easter eggs but you could even save them to make a vegetable broth. I hope that you enjoy this colorful plant based main dish!
Makes 6-8 servings.
3 tablespoon olive oil
5-6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 teaspoon thyme
2 dark red beets, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices (I use a sandwich bag on my hand when I peel and slice the beets to prevent my hands from getting “beet red”
2 golden yellow beets, peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
Chopped beet greens from the greens
Chopped beet stems cut in half inch pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and toss the beets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add beet slices to the cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes turning the beets over and bake about 5 more minutes. Take out and allow to cool. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add beet stems and onions. Saute until translucent and add beet greens. Set the skillet off the heat. In a large sauce pan begin heating the broth In a large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add rice and gently stir it into the olive oil. Turn down the heat to the stock pot. Add 1/2 cup wine, stirring until it evaporates. Continue to adding vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time until 5 cups of broth have been added. the broth will become creamy and the rice kernels will soften. Add dry thyme and then add the rest of broth 1/2 cup at a time. Test taste a granule of the rice to make sure that it is cooked. If it is too chewy, add more broth or water if needed until rice granules are soft. When rice is finished, carefully add onions, stems and greens. Add the rice to a large bowl and add the cooked beet root on top of the risotto. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Carefully place in bowls. Or you can put risotto in bowls and then top with beets and Parmesan cheese.
3. Recycle: Some vegetable and fruit table scraps are pretty difficult to go ahead and eat so a little bit needs to be recycled. Composting is a great way to recycle those inedible bits and pieces of fruits and vegetables. I grew up in a rural area where we composted all organic materials to make a rich, beautiful soil. When I moved to an urban area, I temporarily quit composting because it was not really done that much in urban areas at that time. Over the years, my husband and I became more familiar with urban composting and researched the great reasons to do it and tools to use became more widely available. Here is a great website with resources and information on ways to compost whether you live in the city or a rural area. For some people who live in apartments and do not have a place to compost, there are some areas that have companies that come to pick up those valuable vegetable table scraps so check those out too! But it does have a section on home to compost indoors.
I hope that some of the ideas I shared will inspire you to try some of them! Celebrate Earth Day with a colorful bowl of this Roasted Beet Risotto! If you are new to my blog, welcome and please sign up so you don’t miss a post! And if you have come by again, thank you and come back soon. You can find out a little more about me here.
Below, is my set up for composting, I hope that it inspires ideas for you to get started! I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!