Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10% of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50% of U.S. land, and swallows 80% of all freshwater consumed in the United States.
That’s the statement by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) scientist and “food waste warrior” Dana Gunders that begins Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill (full PDF).
The mission of this blog is to build community at the intersection of health and sustainability, and Gunders makes an excellent point in the publication above that “even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten.” So what are some steps that we (as health-conscious, sustainable-supporting home cooks) can take to reduce the staggering amount of food and therefore resources that are never put to good use? There are many round-ups of fun and informative tips already compiled:
- Greatist’s 29 Smart and Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste (such as designate one dinner per week as the “use-it-up” meal… hopefully this becomes as popular as Meatless Monday!)
- Real Simple‘s How to Reduce Food Waste (such as conduct a “waste audit”)
- Bon Appetite‘s Guide to Garbage: How to Give New Life to Your Kitchen Scraps and Trash (such as using beet skins and tops to dye boiled eggs pink, how cute is that reuse idea?)
- EPA’s Reducing Wasted Food At Home (such as knowing which fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster, and should be stored separately)
- The Kitchn’s 8 Essential Tips for Avoiding Food Waste (such as storing non-perishables like condiments in the crisper and perishables up front at eye level in the refrigerator)
In order to do my part, I created this Vegan Parsley Pesto with Egg and Avocado as a quick and delicious way to use up the leftover herbs that are seemingly perpetually wilting in my refrigerator’s crisper drawer. I also have plenty of the remnants of bulk bags of nuts filling my freezer, and an infinitely-customizable pesto is a wonderful way to use them. Last but certainly not the least reason to make pesto? It is delicious on all the things! I drizzled it over egg and avocado here, but it would be wonderful on any kind of meat, fish, or veggie.
This is hands-down my favorite way to re-purpose the leftover herbs losing their freshness in my fridge.
- 2 heaping cups parsley leaves, loosely-packed
- 1/2 heaping cup walnuts or pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
- Lettuce, green beans, edamame, cherry tomatoes, avocado and a soft-boiled egg (optional)
- To make the pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are ground. Pesto should still have texture and not be completely smooth. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
- Combine lettuce, green beans, edamame, cherry tomatoes, avocado and egg in a bowl if desired, spoon the pesto on top.