Food trends come and go, whether they’re quirky concoctions like rainbow bagels and whipped coffee, or seasonal staples like Veganuary. While some of these only have a passing appeal or are considered short-term commitments, many of the most recent food trends have leant towards a societal shift in the way we talk and think about the food we choose to eat.
‘Plant-based’ is a prime example of this type of shift, emerging as a direct response to increasing concerns about how food impacts not only our health and wellbeing, but also the environment. ‘Zero waste’ is another term that has been buzzing around for some time now, reflecting another shift in the way people are addressing the amount of food that is thrown out and wasted despite the ever-present threat of climate change and global food poverty.
The ‘root to stem’ movement is a rapidly growing food trend that embraces plant-based recipes, promotes zero-waste, and has the added benefit of encouraging culinary creativity. Taking its direction from the ‘nose to tail’ movement in the preparation and cooking of meat where no part of an animal is wasted, the ‘root to stem’ movement applies the same principle to vegetables. It encourages cooks to use every bit of a vegetable, including peels, tops, and scraps they might usually just throw away. It’s an age-old tradition that our ancestors practiced, and now it’s being brought back in the name of health and positive change.
According to The Natural Resources Defense Council, 40% of the food we buy gets wasted. Further statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency suggest that the average American throws away one pound of food each day. Considering that most of this wasted food ends up in landfills and combustion facilities, creating millions of tons of rotting food and resulting methane gas emissions, it’s time for us to all reconsider the way we look at food and its component parts.
This is why a food movement like ‘root to stem’ is so important in readdressing the disproportionate amount of food that goes to waste each day. Learning how to make use of all edible parts of a vegetable champions healthy eating while drastically reducing waste.
From spiralizing to making soups and stews, the ‘root to stem’ movement encourages new ways of thinking about everyday recipes and promotes inventiveness when it comes to cooking. It’s also a handy way of introducing more nutrients and vitamins into your diet, as the vegetable scraps we normally throw out are packed full of iron, Vitamin C, and fiber.
Minimizing the amount of waste we create also helps us get more for our money by stretching the food we buy and, as a result, creates fewer harmful emissions produced by wasted food. Preparing vegetable-based meals and using these ingredients to their fullest potential also means balancing out animal and plant resources, thereby putting less pressure on the meat industry to ensure quality over quantity and encouraging a more ethical food supply chain.
Some of the ways you can introduce the ‘root to stem’ movement into your cooking routine are saving vegetable scraps for fresh stocks to be used in soups, stews, sauces, and gravies, or saving carrot tops to create a vibrant pesto. Potato skins can be easily baked with a dash of olive oil, parmesan, and salt to make tasty chips, and broccoli stalks can be shredded to make a coleslaw, blended into hummus or soup, cut and roasted, or spiralized into noodles. The possibilities are endless.
Part of the magic of the ‘root to stem’ movement is coming up with myriad ways to repurpose parts of the vegetable that are as delicious as their more conventional parts are. The world of vegetable scraps opens up endless ﬂavour possibilities and a rainbow of delicious colors and untapped cuisines to engage with and discover.
People are becoming increasingly hungry for ways to be more responsible, healthy consumers and turning to solutions with shared goals to make the world we live in a better, safer place. Whether this has meant pushing back on plastic for some, embracing ‘ugly produce’ or buying farm-fresh goods for others, collectively we’re all starting to learn the importance of being more considerate of each other and our planet.
The ‘root to stem’ movement is a small but fun adjustment all of us can make in our daily lives to serve a bigger, brighter purpose. Unleash the culinary creative inside of you and join the ‘root to stem’ movement to not only cook up positive change but to feel good, head to toe.
Photo: Elina Mark via Wikimedia Commons