The numbers are as shocking as they are appalling.
At a time when one in eight families in America struggles to put dinner on the table, a whopping 40 percent of the food produced in the country never gets eaten.
Some of it rots in the field before it can get harvested or gets lost or damaged during processing and packaging; other food items get tossed on the way to market because they’re too ugly to be displayed in the grocery store. Thousands of pounds of leftovers end up in the trash because by the time we remember they’re in the fridge, they’re moldy.
The average family of four throws out $1,500 of food each year, to the combined annual tune of $165 billion.
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In home kitchens, fruits and vegetables get wasted the most (52 percent) because they’re perishable. We also toss half of all seafood, and close to 40 percent of grain products. When it comes to meat and dairy products, we are a little more careful, wasting about 20 percent of each. To put this in perspective, it’s enough food to feed 25 million Americans, according to a 2012 Natural Resources Defence Council issue paper – or the entire population of Texas.
These recipes are ways to cut down on that waste.
Potato peel croutons
Makes 2 cups
Yes, the skin from peeled potatoes is perfectly edible, and yes, they make a terrific snack when tossed with a little olive oil and roasted in the oven. I used fresh thyme but you could substitute dried. The croutons also are delicious with a sprinkling of cumin or curry powder.
2 cups potato peels from well-scrubbed potatoes
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons of fresh thyme, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Toss potato peels and garlic cloves with oil and thyme; add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast until crisp, about 20 minutes, tossing occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Remove from oven and immediately toss with cheese. Use croutons to top salads and casseroles. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Marinated broccoli stems
These pickled broccoli stems are a perfect nibbler for cocktail parties, and completely addictive.
3 or 4 broccoli stems
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large clove garlic, very finely chopped or pressed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or use equal parts oil and vinegar)
Peel broccoli stems and cut them into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Toss the stems with salt in a jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, pour off the water that has accumulated in the jar.
Add garlic, vinegar and oil to the jar, stir well and refrigerate for several hours. These keep for a week or more, but the color will fade.