Using It All

July 29, 2011 in Cooking & Baking Hints, Food Economics, General, Nutrition by Mary Ireland

I really couldn't get past the title of the article - That's not Trash, That's Dinner - I just had to read it. I admit that I was put off by the picture at the top of the article; however, the article itself is very good. I thought that it was especially relevant based on one of the articles that Dr. Grandma included in her post on Tuesday - Mediterraneans Abandon their Famous Diet. The article about Mediterraneans abandoning their diet points out that vegetables, fish and olive oil - the main components of the Mediterranean diet are becoming too expensive for the average person. This is interesting because the article points out the fact that people originally ate this diet because they were too poor to eat "better."

I would like to digress a moment about how Jeremy Cherfas, the author of the article, makes reference to the “industrial global diet.” This name sounds as absolutely awful -- as the diet actually is. I am so glad that someone -- obviously not someone associated with the agribusiness -- has come up with this name. I'm sure that once the leaders of agribusinesses are aware of the name "industrial global diet," there will be millions of dollars spent on advertising to come up with a name that sounds as if it is healthy and that it gives consumers total happiness and bliss. Regardless, I will still continue to use the industrial global diet.

So now, back to That's Not Trash. Just a few days ago, I was thinking about the contents of my sink after washing vegetables and preparing dinner. I looked at the stuff that I was getting ready to toss in the trash or compost and thought how a person starving in southern Somalia could make a feast on what I wasn't going to eat -- and I don't think that I am a wasteful person. For goodness sakes, I eat carrot greens and probably more of the stems from kale, chard and collards than most people.

After reading in That's Not Trash about the creative ways of using all of the produce, I realize that I have a lot of new things to try. For example, in the article is a recipe for using broccoli stalks. In past I would simply cut off the tough other peel and cut the stalks into sticks - like carrot sticks. The article gives a much more appetizing recipe. To make this new dish you cut off and discard the tough outer peel, shave what remains into ribbons with a vegetable peeler, scatter with lemon zest and shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Not really hard or time consuming. The article claims that this dish has all the pleasure of raw artichoke salad with half the work. If you are game, you can visit the Purple Kale Kitchenworks website and check out the posts which include "Otherwise, Trash" for other ideas about using more parts of produce.

One of my father's favorite sayings was "waste not, want not." This attitude was effectively driven into me. I am much more conservative with resources than many of my contemporaries and so much more than many younger people. I really flinched when I read Dr. Grandma's post about the punkin chuckin’ trebuchet. I couldn't help but think of all the hungry people in the world who could benefit from the pumpkins that were being "chunked" for entertainment. But even when we aren't trying to waste food, we actually end up wasting a lot of it.

Perhaps the That's Not Trash, That's Dinner article caught my eye because I recently started reading an interesting book titled, "The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life". It is a book about how less can be more. It talks about the price we pay for having so much stuff; the price - the insurance, the cleaning, the maintenance, etc. - that is in addition to the cost of the item. It is thought-provoking and relevant. Almost everyday, I read something about our lifestyle not being sustainable. However, it seems that trying to change my own habits, much less other people's is like trying to turn the Titanic.

Starting small seems to be a key and eating more of what we buy seems like an excellent idea. Perhaps the economics of buying produce will become more reasonable if a person is able to get more meals out of the produce. You won't be able to apply the principle to olive oil, but using fish more as a condiment or part of a stew, soup or stir fry will help to stretch strained food budget dollars. I firmly believe that eating healthy can be less expensive than eating the industrial global diet, just on its own. But when you consider doctor's costs, hospital bills, and paying for prescriptions that will inevitably be the result of the industrial global diet, the cost of eating healthy is a lot less expensive. And how can you put a price tag on your health and your ability to move your body easily?

Broccoli Stem Salad


Broccoli stems
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Grate broccoli stems. Add zest of lemon to taste. Lightly sprinkle with cheese.

Washed broccoli stems.

Peel broccoli stems.

Grate and add lemon zest.

Top with grated cheese.