This summer, my husband and I joined a CSA from a local farm near us in Warwick, New York called Hesperides Organica. If you aren’t familiar with the term CSA it is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture, which is basically a box full of delicious, homegrown fruits and veggies from a local farm every week. I wish I could say that we do this every year but no, we are first-time CSA members and are definitely in it for the long run.
For a vegetarian like me, the CSA is magical and here’s why:
- I never have to worry about unnecessary plastic wrap or waste
- The food is always organic, in-season and locally-grown
- It’s a box overflowing with delicious, amazing, fresh food
- Our farmer sends a weekly email with recipes to go along with your CSA share
Like I said — magic. The only downside is that, try as we might, we simply cannot eat all of the produce before it begins to rot and wilt. Seeing this beautiful homegrown food go to waste pained me and made me feel really guilty for not being “better” and eating this abundance of food in time. Which got me thinking of how big an issue food waste is overall. “According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 30 percent of food is wasted globally across the supply chain, contributing 8 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.”
That is staggering considering how much autonomy we have over this in our daily life. Not only does this let food itself fall into the category of “disposable” and something that just “goes away” (like the brilliant Dr. Sylvia Earle says, “there is no away”) but the growing, processing, packaging, shipping, etc. also go to waste. That’s a sad fact and a problem that to me, seems to have a very simple solution: Don’t waste food.
We can’t control what happens outside of our own kitchen but we do have the ability to put every scrap to use in our homes. During this season, when fresh food is plentiful, here are a few simple ways to enjoy every bite and avoid food waste in the summer.
- Freezer Pops – Take wilting, soon-to-be rotting fruits and toss them in your blender with a milk of your choice and make creamy, freezer pops instead of tossing them out. I went rogue and recipe-less with some old bananas, frozen pineapples, milk and coconut flakes and it was a success. Now, I’ve always got a delicious and cold sweet treat waiting in the freezer. Try out this recipe , too.
- Fresh Fruit Roll-Ups – I know you’re probably raising a skeptical eyebrow at this one but I swear it’s easy and also a great way to use up a bunch of fruit. Simply blend the fruit with honey and bake it at 200 degrees F for a few hours. My favorite recipe is from my *favorite* cookbook, Savor by Ilona Oppenheim. However, you can easily give this one a shot, too!
- Homemade Salad Dressing – This salad dressing recipe changed everything for me. Anytime I have fruit (e.g. apple, peaches, strawberries, pears, etc.) on hand that looks like it might start to rot, I turn it into homemade salad dressing. It’s yummy, fresh and you get to skip out on the preservatives and plastic waste.
- Hummus – If you’ve never made hummus before, it’s a surprisingly easy and fool-proof recipe for novice home chefs. I started making hummus after discovering this recipe from Ina Garten and realized just how simple it was to toss in extra veggies like peppers, or even leftover beans that might soon go bad. The result is zero food waste and freshly prepared hummus in the fridge!
- Slaw – Here is some more two-step food processor magic: slaw! From broccoli stems to the feathery, green tops of carrots, all of these are fair game for a homemade slaw that adds some more nutrients and flavor to your dishes. Give this mayo-free recipe a whirl.
- Salsa – What I put in my salsa largely depends on what leftovers are in the fridge or just hanging around on the counters. I like to riff off this basic salsa recipe which is great as a standalone and with a little something extra. Got some remains of a pineapple or mango? Chop ’em up! Half a jalapeno? Give your salsa an extra kick.
In need of a food processor? I like this one from Cuisinart— it may seem a bit pricey but it’s worth the investment. Try it out and let me know how it goes!