Root-to-Stem: Eliminating Food Waste

Those BOGO deals at the grocery store are hard to pass up, but have you thought about how much food you could be throwing away by taking advantage of them? Chefs across the country have been encouraging people to adopt the root-to-stem cooking technique for years. Now it’s poised to become one of the biggest food trends of 2018.

According to multiple studies, over $100 billion of food waste is created in the United States each year. This is because produce is thrown away before it’s actually rotten and perfectly usable parts of fruits and vegetables are discarded instead of used. While composting is a great way to combat waste, you can use every little bit of fruits and vegetables in most cases.

When you dive into the root-to-stem trend, you will see that everything has a purpose. Fruits are a perfect example. For instance, banana peels can be used to polish silver. All you have to do is blend several banana peels with water. Then use a rag to make your house sparkle. You can also use apple peels and cores to make your own apple cider vinegar, which is much more budget friendly than the store-bought version.

While this trend helps to eliminate food waste, not all produce items should be used in root-to-stem cooking, including eggplant leaves, asparagus berries and apple seeds. However, even produce that is toxic to ingest, such as rhubarb leaves, have a use. Interestingly, rhubarb leaves can be used as an insecticide. Just boil the leaves in water and strain the juice into a spray bottle to use in your garden. You shouldn’t use this insecticide if you have pets.

The root-to-stem trend is a spinoff of other techniques that are used to avoid waste. When it comes to meat, you don’t need to throw away the scraps of fat or the bones. These two ingredients are perfect for meat stocks and can be stored in the freezer for a month.

Additionally, you already know that, with a cautionary sniff, you can use the milk in your fridge past the due date. But did you know that same milk can be used even when it sours? Just use it before the chunks are thick and inspect it to ensure there’s no mold. All you have to do is boil the milk to get rid of the bad bacteria and it turns into the perfect ingredient for cookies and scones. Some chefs even prefer using soured milk in place of buttermilk.

From carrot tops to apple cores, make sure you’re using everything you can. Now, it’s time for you to challenge yourself to eliminate food waste.

How to Become a Root-to-Stem Expert

1. Shop in your refrigerator first. It may seem like a no brainer, but this will save you from buying more of the produce you already have on hand.

2. Plan ahead. This is the key to reducing your waste. As you do your meal prepping, plan to make recipes where you can use the parts of your produce that you would typically discard.

3. Utilize your freezer. Sort the things you know you won’t be using right away into your freezer immediately after your grocery trip. This includes leftover meat and bones for stocks.

4. Prioritize your produce. Use the fruits and vegetables that bruise quicker first. This will allow you to have fresh produce for even longer.

Coffee Grind Facial

Cut down on spending for those luxurious beauty products while getting the full use out of your coffee grinds. This recipe from Organic Authority produces a softening facial that not only moisturizes your skin but also helps tighten pores, remove oil and reduce puffiness.


-2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee (or used grinds)
-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
-3 tablespoons milk (whole), heavy cream or yogurt
-1 tablespoon honey

Mix all ingredients together. Once combined, massage the mask onto your face and relax for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off thoroughly.


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Written by Christina Diaz

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