These zero waste food tips are designed to highlight environmental stewardship, reduce personal waste, and combat thoughtless consumerism.
It’s U-Pick and Fall Farmers’ Market season and you’re probably looking forward to all the fresh B.C. produce you will be able to pick up. As you probably know already, we’re quite keen on sustainability and environmentalism here in B.C. The government boats a “Greening Your Home” campaign and our Green Economy is growing every day.
Here are a few things that YOU can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Bring Your Own Bags & Buckets
You might be tempted to just wing it when you are visiting the farmers’ market or u-pick farms in your area but a little planning can go a long way. By bringing your own reusable produce bags, fabric totes, and buckets, you can save plastic and paper waste that usually comes from packaging.
Shop for items that come in compostable packaging or no packaging at all. Paper or cardboard packaging that isn’t waxed can be torn up and composted for smaller items like berries that require a container.
Plant Your Own Herbs
Herbs are often difficult to package, as they are small and may fall apart during the shipping process. This means that you usually find them in glass or plastic containers. Avoid this by growing your own herbs! A small window planter is all you need to get started. Some of the easiest herbs to grow are chives, mint, parsley, basil, and cilantro.
You can also grow different flowers and flavors that can be dried and used for tea. Try English or Roman chamomile, lemon balm (part of the mint family), or peppermint.
Use Every Part of Your Produce
We often peel, rind, and chop without taking the time to consider whether or not the “waste” we are creating can be repurposed for good. Prepackaged goods have spoiled us into thinking that it’s okay to pluck out the “best” and ignore the “rest” when it comes to our fruits, veggies, and meats.
In reality, many food parts that get thrown away can (and should) be used up. Roasted pumpkin seeds, apple peel chips, watermelon rind chutney, sauteed greens stems, and fruit peel jelly are just a few of your endless options!
Collect Pieces for Soup Broth
Some leftovers can’t be “eaten” per se but they can certainly be saved, frozen, and later boiled into a delicious vegetable or meat-based broth. You can save items like garlic skins, pepper cores, meat bones, onion tops, herb stems, and tomato ends. There are plenty of different recipes for homemade broth so no matter what you have leftover, you can probably come up with something delicious.
Note that not ALL food bits make for a good-tasting broth. Leave out (or use in small portions) bitter greens, vegetable tops with too many leaves, overpowering herbs, certain seeds, and anything that doesn’t add much flavor (like corn).
Re-Grow Items Where You Can
Many fruit and veggies can serve double-duty by being replanted after partial consumption and allowed to grow anew. An example of this is green onion, whereby you can chop off the tips and add them to your dish and then pace the bulbs and remaining spouts in a jar of water to let them regrow. You can also replant garlic that has sprouted in order to collect more fresh bulbs later on.
Try this with celery, Romain lettuce, carrots, leeks, and even pineapple. Each item will have slightly different instructions for how to regrow it.
Compost, Compost, Compost!
If there is something you really can’t reuse, then collect it to be composted. Items like eggshells actually have a lot of nutrients that gardens will love! If you have space for your own garden, you can create your own mulch with a bit of effort. If not, see if your city offers compost collection or drop-off so that it can be processed and used elsewhere.
Make sure you don’t contaminate your compost with plastic, waxed cardboard, or other unsavory items! This can make the whole batch go to waste.
We love sharing our community and everything that entails here at Breakaway Vacations. We also believe in giving back, protecting nature, and living mindfully. So pack up your tote bags, mark the markets on your maps, and come visit us on the beautiful, sunny Vancouver Island!
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