It's not garbage if you eat it. How I made a gourmet meal with food scraps.
True
Ad Council - Save The Food

I'm Heather. I'm a single woman living alone, and just like you, sometimes I buy too much food.

For the longest time, I didn't think much of it. I'd get overeager at the grocery store and come home with more food than I could eat or preserve. When some of it went bad, as food inevitably does, I threw it out.

Then I started learning more about climate change, pollution, and food waste. I discovered that my dirty little secret of throwing away food wasn't mine at all. Lots of us do it, and that's adding up in massive ways.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans wasted 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010 — about 30% of the national food supply.

That kind of waste affects many aspects of American life. 40% of all food in America never gets eaten, and the average American family of four loses $1,500 a year on wasted food, with each individual throwing away over 24 pounds of food per month. Food going to landfills could be provided to some of the millions of Americans with food insecurity; instead, along with yard waste, it accounts for 27% of waste products sent to city landfills. As it rots there, it creates methane, a dangerous driver of climate change.

You deserved better, food. Image via iStock.

I felt guilty but inspired. It was time to try and shrink my food footprint.

Over the last few months, I've become a lot more conscious of the amount of food I buy. I'm making weekly meal plans to ensure I'm not buying things I won't need. I've also started composting — and made many new fruit fly friends in the process.

But I knew I could do more. What about the bits of food that come with produce and meat I buy that inevitably end up in the compost or garbage? Shouldn't I be finding a use for them, too? According to this video from Save the Food, a campaign by the Ad Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to encourage Americans to reduce food waste in the U.S., that answer was definitely yes:

I decided to challenge myself. I'd cook a full meal of recipes based around the scraps of food I usually toss in the compost or the garbage. I'd try to use even the bits of food I wouldn't usually even consider food. I’d document my progress, feast on the fruits of my labor, and bring you, dear reader, along for the trip. Are you ready? Let’s ride.

Indeed it must. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

The soup course: Meat bones are the new black — er, broth.

If I were the good hipster my Tinder profile says I am, I’d be consuming bone broth regularly for its collagen-loving, immune-boosting health benefits. Plus, it’s a great way to get more use out of bones after a meal.

Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

These bones were left over from a rib dinner a few weeks ago — I stored them in the freezer in anticipation of this meal. After I thawed them out, they spent the night in a stock pot on low heat. In the morning I added some spices, celery, and onion and let it continue simmering. My apartment smelled amazing, and my cat was very confused.

Unfortunately, I forgot just how much of my broth I needed for my main course, and after it simmered down, I only had a tiny bowl's worth left for this course. Nonetheless, it was lovely, and I felt like a giant drinking it. If you want to try making a broth of your own from scratch, here's a tasty recipe for homemade chicken stock.

Spoon for scale! Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Food saved/reused: half pound of beef bones.

The salad course: Beet greens are also a food!

Before this meal, I’ve never intentionally or willingly eaten a beet green. Not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know I could. Turns out, I should have been doing this for a long time because beet greens have lots of vitamins and minerals — and they're pretty tasty too!

GIF via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Important note: If you’re going to eat beet greens, be sure to cook them first as they are surprisingly bitter in the raw. Some recipes recommend blanching, but I just gave them a quick sauté in olive oil, crushed garlic, and red pepper flakes for a warm green salad. It was absolutely delicious — like a denser, heavier version of cooked spinach. I'm already looking forward to having it again.

Food saved: one-quarter pound of beet greens.

The main course: Shrivel-y tubers still taste fantastic when cooked in a hearty stew.

I’ve only recently learned that my fridge drawers have special functions for keeping food at its utmost freshness. I’ve also started to embrace that not every perishable food needs to immediately go to the fridge. Unfortunately for a few sweet potatoes and a forgotten yam, those realizations came a little too late.

Fear not, squishy veggies: You shall rise again! Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

I looked online and found that these tough tubers, despite their depleted moisture content, were still perfectly safe to eat. Chopped up to supplement a big hearty beef stew, you’d hardly guess that they used to be the veggie equivalent of a fashion "don’t." (Another great way to use up vegetable scraps is to turn them into delicious veggie broth.)

This beef stew was a great solution for helping to empty my larder. To my thirsty tubers, I added some neglected celery and some heirloom carrots that had gone a wee bit rubbery with age. Once they were cooked up with some well-browned beef, most of my stock, and some spices, they helped make a delicious winter stew. Even though it took forever to cook (wherefore art thou, slow cooker?), it was rich, savory, and filling.

My inner hobbit was impressed with my culinary expertise. GIF via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

Food saved: 1 pound of slightly shriveled yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots plus some orphan celery stalks and the beef stock from the soup course.

The dessert course: Ambrosia apples a la floor, then a la crumble.

Ambrosia apples are my candy; I would happily trade them for chocolate almost any day. So, when I brought home my bag of perfectly-selected ambrosias — and promptly spilled them all over the floor, I was pretty gutted. My gorgeous apples were very bruised with lots of soft spots. I needed to do something with them right away.

Fortunately, I had some almond flour and gluten-free oats in my pantry. Now, instead of an afternoon snack, my beloved ambrosia apples became the showpiece of a rare special dessert — a naturally-sweet gluten-free apple crumble.

This crumble was, dare I say, ambrosia. Image via Heather Libby/Upworthy.

I’d originally planned on serving my crumble with some non-dairy "ice cream" made from pureed frozen bananas, but the ones in my pantry absolutely refused to go bad on time for this article. That said, if you have some less-than-impressive bananas in your pantry or on your counter, I strongly recommend you try the false ice cream on your own. It’s one ingredient, takes seconds to make, and will make any lactose intolerant person weep tears of non-dairy joy.

Food saved: three-quarters pound of life-changingly delicious ambrosia apples.

While a four-course meal isn't feasible every day, I know that some of the tricks I learned will become a regular part of my cooking routine.

Even though this challenge took quite a while — including prep and cleaning, about three hours — I was having so much fun that it kind of sped by. I watched old episodes of "Scandal" and "Last Week Tonight" while I chopped produce; my cats, Fezzik and Rupert, stayed off the counter for the entire evening; and I got to enjoy a really satisfying home-cooked meal that left me with plenty of freezable leftovers for future meals.

Even better, I helped keep about two and half pounds of food I would have considered scraps out of the landfill and compost.

Would I do this again? Absolutely. Should you do it, too? In the spirit of reuse, I'll say again: Absolutely.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less
via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

Keep Reading Show less