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reducing food waste: discovering the potential of your groceries

Image by: Dana DeVolk

Author: Simone Quenneville

What’s in your fridge right now? Have you got some sad looking bits and pieces tucked away in there? Perhaps a shriveled apple or some not so fresh spinach? We’ve all been confronted by wilted fruit and veg that is past its prime and have perhaps thought that composting said food is the best option. But what if we could do better? Bare Market blogger Simone discusses the issue of food waste and how we can get creative with our kitchen scraps.



Find yourself throwing away food on a weekly basis? You’re not the only one. Canadians are among the top wasters of food in the world – up to $31 billion worth per year to be exact. More than 60 percent of that food is avoidable, meaning it could have been eaten. Unsurprisingly, fruits and vegetables are the #1 category of food that gets thrown away.

As a dietitian, it’s a shame to hear this fact since fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals that are otherwise being tossed into the garbage instead of nourishing our bodies. While composting unused food scraps is great, not throwing it away in the first place is even better! Here are some tips on how to use up the parts of food that are nutritious yet commonly thrown away.


Image by: Skeeze

Gather The Greens

Much like other nutritious leafy greens, the leafy parts of beets and carrots that are usually cut off and thrown away are packed with vitamin A, vitamin K, are a plant source of calcium (looking at you vegans!) and heart healthy potassium! Next time don’t chuck them, but use them for your dinner.


What To Do With Them:

  • Keep the leaves raw and add them to a mixed greens salad
  • Give your stews, soups, and curries a boost of nutrition. They’ll cook down in the hot liquid, so you’ll hardly even notice them!

    Image by: Edgar Castrejon

    Pack In The Peels 

    A large proportion of nutrients in fruits and vegetables are stored just under the peel, components we don’t usually consume due to the bitter taste. However, through cooking, many of these nutrients can be squeezed out for your benefit!


    What To Do With Them:

      • The antioxidants on the outside of carrots and onions (think that part that you peel off) can be extracted by saving the scraps from other recipes in the freezer. Once enough are collected, you can boil them to create a simple and flavourful vegetable stock.
      • The vitamin C and potassium of citrus fruit peels are another nutrient packed ingredient that have a variety of uses. One easy way to use the peels is zesting for a burst of flavour in baking or salad dressings. Lemon peels can also be saved to make a nice cup of tea. And a tip for the bakers out there: placing an orange peel in your brown sugar container will keep it from hardening over time!


      Image by: slon_dot_pics


      Save The Stems 

      Broccoli and cauliflower are vegetables that are known for their versatility in recipes. Most call for the florets, leaving the stalks to be consequently tossed out. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Broccoli and cauliflower stalks are packed with many of the nutrients found in the rest of the vegetable, such as vitamin C, folate and potassium. More importantly, they are a great source of fibre.


      What To Do With Them:

      • Both of these cruciferous vegetables can be chopped up and added to stir frys or even grated into spaghetti sauce or homemade burger patties. Sneak those veggies in and you won’t be disappointed! This quick addition will add moisture and a boost of important nutrients to your meal.


      The next time you’re preparing a nice home-cooked meal I hope you’ll see even more potential with the ingredients in your fridge, and reduce your food waste as a result. If you want some more tips on how you can reduce food waste, take a peek here.


      About the Author: Simone Quenneville is a graduate of the University of Toronto Master of Public Health program with a focus on nutrition. She is currently pursuing a career as a registered dietitian but was drawn to the Bare Market blog as a way to keep her passion for the environment and sustainability alive.

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