Saving Our Planet One Veggie at a Time
The 49th anniversary of Earth Day is celebrated April 22, but before you figuratively roll your eyes at the inevitable rhetoric that usually follows of
"how you should celebrate Earth Day, EVERY DAY" - Hear me out.
As individuals, there are truly so many things that we can do every day to reduce our environmental impact and they literally cost us nothing! So, I'm not going to tell you about how you should forgo the paper to-go coffee/tea cups and BYO glass or stainless steel one, or tell you why recycling and composting is so important. And I'm definitely not going to mention how switching to natural cleansers helps keep our waterways cleaner and support its natural ecosystem because we've heard it all and your friend's cousin's ex-girlfriend shared the posts with you on Facebook two Earth Days ago. These are all really important things to incorporate into our everyday lives to help the planet breathe a little easier, but can we do something more? Something super easy, tangible, and with such great intent that we can incorporate every day. Something along the lines of “I feel pretty clever right about now”.
The Nitty Gritty of Food Waste!
According to earth.org, in 2020, food waste is the 2nd highest-ranking environmental issue of our lifetime. Food we don't eat or crops that are lost due to weather, low market prices, or high labor costs can all contribute to food waste. Grocery stores will often overstock their shelves and throw out excess products as well. All these factors have massive environmental costs - from the land, resources, and labour used to make the food to the transportation of these ingredients to our grocery stores. With so many moving parts to grow a single carrot, it's no wonder they can have such a large impact.
Let's talk about what we as individuals can do to help food waste. One of my favourite ways to fight crimes against food is 'upcycling my ingredients! What does upcycling mean in this context? I'm so glad you asked! Upcycling food is getting the most bang for your buck from your groceries. When you buy food from a grocery store, it's finding new and different ways to use those ingredients again! For example, instead of throwing out your lemon peels, put those peels into a mason jar, add some strong vinegar, and letting it sit for a week or two to make your own grease fighting cleaner, without the bald guy. Upcycling could also be drying out the pulp from homemade nut milk in the oven to add to your granola for an extra nutrient-dense punch! Not only does upcycling your food mean more nutrients and diversity in your diet, but it also means that the supply chain process directly benefits the environment by making the most out of our farmland and its resources. My all time favourite way to upcycle my food is making a vegetable broth from my leftover veggie scraps. Do I sense a recipe coming on? You betcha!
This is a no-fuss, fool-proof recipe to make a lovely broth from upcycled veggie scraps, which also will save the unnecessary waste created from buying store-bought canned or tetra-pack broths. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it's SO versatile. All you'll require is some veggie trimmings saved throughout the week. You can keep them in a bowl with a lid in your freezer until a) you're ready to make broth or b) the bowl is overflowing (GUILTY!) No extra cutting, peeling is required with this recipe. You'll already have all the ingredients you need in your freezer!
You will need:
• Dust off the crockpot or slow cooker that's taking up space in your kitchen cupboard – you've been looking for a reason to use it anyways!
• Tried and True Ingredients (include but are not limited to): carrot peels + ends, celery trimmings including the leaves, mushroom stems, cauliflower and broccoli stalks, potato peels, and leek trimmings. Garlic and onion skins are fantastic in this recipe. There's a shocking amount of flavour in those papery peels, albeit, not the tastiest in your stir fry, so don't throw them away! Your resourcefulness is your only restriction! Also, don't forget the veggies that are floppy in your crisper drawer because you neglected to use them before their time - throw those in too!
• Add any added herbs and spices you want, dried, fresh, or not so fresh, (the classics: any combination of a sprig of thyme or rosemary, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/2 tbsp of oregano, or a pinch of chili flakes, etc) and some salt and pepper. There is practically no veggie I wouldn't try in this, but I will say from experience, leave out bell pepper seeds, they're extremely bitter!
• Fill your slow cooker with your veggies and seasonings and top with water until the veggies are submerged.
• Set your slow cooker on low for about 8-12 hrs (overnight works like a charm!).
• Cool, strain, and decant into mason jars. You can freeze it or use it right away for soup, pasta sauce, chili, or use it to cook your grains instead of water! You don't have to have to be confident in the kitchen, but more importantly, you don't have to take an extra trip to the grocery store or have an extra buck or 5 to build a nutritious and delicious broth.
Improve your Purchasing Power!
Another no-brainer way to hold up our end of the earth / humankind bargain is by supporting Certified B Corporations. These businesses offer transparency in their practices and are committed to the improvement of our planet. Choosing B Corporations for purchases you would be making anyways will support companies that emphasize social and environmental efforts and profit parallel with purpose. As if I needed another reason to buy Ben & Jerry's.
The Obligatory Take-Away
The one thing Im sure of is that there may be an overwhelming supply of knowledge, efforts or ideas to protect our planet, but I believe that doing one good thing in support of a greener future is better than doing nothing at all. Whether you chose to celebrate Earth Month with our suggestions, or you come up with new and clever ways to protect our collective home, above all else, being informed and educated about our daily decisions with purchases as well as our waste can all be great ways to better the environment every day.
But you knew that already, right?
Written by Jenn Luckas
Jenn is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner living in Toronto, Ontario. Jenn has a growing passion for all things holistic wellness while empowering others to believe they can create their version of health and balance for themselves. Jenn's favourite areas of practice include digestive wellness, low waste living and imbibing in the occasional donut. She loves interior design, curb-alerts and crosswords. She can be found at THENOURISHNEST.COM as well as chilling as Vitarock's Ethical Ambassador.
Find a huge selection of sustainable and ethically sourced wellness products at Vitarock! Shop with confidence, knowing all our wellness products have been pre-screened to be PURE, GREEN, SAFE, and FAIR. Founded by a fellow mom, Alicja is one of Canada’s most respected experts in natural product quality and safety.