Eat Your Organic Produce from Root to Stem

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Here’s something to chew on: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American throws away nearly one pound of food per day. Surprisingly, those with the healthiest diets tend to throw away the most in the form of discarded leaves, stems, peels, and stalks from organic produce.

A food movement called root-to-stem eating is becoming more popular and incorporating its principles can help you create less food waste per day. In fact, you can use nearly every part of organic vegetables from root to stem—all it takes is a little creative thinking.

Root-to-Stem Eating Defined

What exactly does it mean to eat from root to stem? It’s a way of cooking and eating that recalibrates how you think about the organic produce you buy and how you prepare it. It’s also an imaginative way to make the most of your food and to reap the most health benefits from it by easily Incorporating the parts of the organic vegetables you normally throw away into your meal.

This new way of eating helps to fight back against food waste as you increase your vegetable intake. A win/win situation! Plus, it’s a lot easier than you may think.

What to Do

Root-to-stem cooking isn’t complicated. In fact, it’s probably easier than what you’re used to since you use every part of the produce in your cooking, including the roots, stems, flowers, stalks, and leaves. Forget the peeling and the plucking, simply use your organic vegetables as is, cooking them without removing the parts you normally would.

If there are parts of the produce that don’t seem appetizing, then you can still find a place for them in your cooking. Create a vegetable stock from the parts normally considered cast-offs, then store the vegetable stock to make delicious soups, stews, sauces, and even gravy. Just make sure you wash your produce thoroughly beforehand.

A Few Good Organic Vegetables

Quite often, the parts traditionally discarded from organic produce are the most nutritious. Beet greens are a great example since they have eight times the vitamins and minerals of the beet root itself.

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To get the most nutritional bang for your organic produce buck, start your own root-to-stem eating movement with these vegetables:

  • Turnips

  • Chard

  • Potatoes

  • Asparagus

  • Beets

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Fennel

  • Jackfruit

  • Leeks

  • Corn cobs

To help incorporate the different parts of the organic produce into your meals, use them in:

  • Salads

  • Sautéed and roasted vegetable dishes

  • Pasta dishes

  • Casseroles

  • Soups and stews

  • Water, as a flavor enhancer

  • Smoothies

  • Pickling

Remember, the stalks and leaves normally thrown out are a part of the vegetable, not an obstacle to eating it. Eating whole organic produce from root to stem provides a huge boost to your health and nutrition, all while helping the environment. So, the next time you’re wandering through the produce section, think of the greens attached to those radishes as a two-for-one deal you can’t pass up to help these new ideas take root.

Dan Nehring