Root-to-stem cooking: Reducing food waste is a food trend


Don’t throw away vital parts of the vegetable. The food trend to reduce food waste has home cooks discovering root-to-stem cooking.

With Anthony Bourdain’s recent food waste documentary, more people are aware of the food waste problem. From the home cook to the large scale restaurant, millions of pounds of food are thrown away. This food waste isn’t rotten or unusable. Some food waste is actual, usable food that people either don’t know or understand that they can actually eat.

Root-to-stem cooking, photo by Cristine Struble

Previously, nose to tail cooking was a popular topic with chefs. While many countries use all parts of the animal in their dishes, Americans had difficulty accepting the offal parts of an animal. Organ meats, smaller cuts of meat and other items can be quite tasty when prepared correctly. By using the whole animal and not wasting it, the cook is paying a great respect to that animal. Just like in the animal butchery situation, the same idea can be applied to grown fruits and vegetables.

Root-to-stem cooking is a huge food trend. The concept is simple. The entire part of the fruit or vegetable can, and should be, used. Although stems, leaves or rinds haven’t been used as frequently, they can be used in all types of dishes. More and more recipes are incorporating these lesser used items, which helps to combat food waste.

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Many recipes are now incorporating the root-to-stem concept. For example, pickled water melon rinds can add brightness to a fruit salad. Or, herb stems can be blended into a pesto. Broccoli stalks can be used in a slaw. Even fennel prawns can be used as a flavorful garnish to a dish.

These often discarded pieces don’t need to end up in the garbage can. The whole fruit or vegetable has great flavor and added nutrients that shouldn’t go overlooked. Before scraping those pieces into the garbage bowl, think about an alternative use.

Many root-to-stem recipes are becoming available. A search of a favorite recipe site or Pinterest can produce a variety of recipes. Even if the home cook tries this food trend once a week, the difference can be noticeable.

Do you have a great root-to-stem recipe to share? Tag us at #FoodSided or comment below. Food waste is an important conversation that shouldn’t be overlooked. More than just a food trend, it should become a way of life.