11 Nutritious Reasons to Eat Food Scraps

It’s not trash—it’s dinner!

By Emily Main


Food waste is a hot topic nowadays. It was the focus of the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Environment Day 2013, and the USDA and EPA recently announced a joint partnership aiming to reduce waste at every level of our food supply chain.

As well it should be! Americans are guilty of tossing 40 percent of the food produced every day in this country. That staggering amount of food could feed every hungry person in this country. And while some of the waste can be pegged to farmers, grocery stores, and restaurants that produce, sell, and serve more food than we can consume, most of the waste happens in homes. People buy more than they can eat—and they toss out perfectly edible parts of food that they simply don’t know what to do with.

The former can be handled by better meal planning, for sure, but the latter requires a little know-how. You might not know that you can eat broccoli stems or beet greens, but that “trash” is just as nutritious, and sometimes more so, than the main part of the vegetable. So save money and nutrients by keeping these 11 food scraps out of the trash.

Cauliflower and Broccoli stems and leavesCauliflower and broccoli stems and leaves

Though most people chop off the florets of broccoli and cauliflower, the stems themselves are healthy, mineral-packed leftovers that too often wind up in the garbage. Pare off the tough exterior to get to the mild-flavored flesh. Shave it into ribbons and cook those into a pasta doppelganger, as Edward Lee, head chef at 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky, suggests. Or slice the stalks into sticks that you can use for dipping hummus or salsa.

Try it: Broccoli-Stem, Quinoa, and Edamame Salad

Dig Deeper: Guest Chef Edward Lee.

Photo: (cc) Bryan Ochalla/Flickr