3 tips for zero waste in the kitchen

1. Source wiser

You don’t have to get involved in the zero waste movement, which is about producing as little rubbish as possible to make a difference in the world. Jessica Waite, who co-founded The Plot with her husband Davin (the head chef) and a business associate in Oceanside, California, suggests starting small to avoid overwhelming yourself. Be careful where you buy, she says, “Get to know the family who grow your food; Go to your local farm stall or farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. “This eliminates packaging, minimizes travel footprints, and supports regenerative agriculture and soil health, which translates into better health for you and the planet. When you buy from someone you know, you waste less and enjoy more says Waite.

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2. Be innovative

Waite and her team designed The Plot’s menu to get diners excited about plants while rethinking the anatomy of a vegetable. “Look at your vegetables whole,” says Waite. “There are different flavor components – different textures for each part. We juice celery roots to make a concentrate for sodas and a broth for other dishes, but then we use the pulp to make takoyaki balls [a Japanese appetizer traditionally made with octopus]. At home, you can salvage contaminated almond or oat pulp from homemade milk alternatives to make muffins or turn carrot stalks into pesto. Broccoli leftover? Add to a pan. Kale ribs? Pickle them. Mandarin peels? Emulsify in a spicy vinaigrette. Using each part reduces waste and conserves the resources used to grow the products. If you’re spending good money on something, Waite asks, why should you throw half of it away?

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3. Fermentation

In the United States, we dispose of food at the rate of 1,250 calories per person per day. When it ends up in the landfill, it turns into methane, which warms the atmosphere and can be 86 times more effective than carbon dioxide. Thanks to a composting alternative called bokashi, which uses grains to essentially ferment leftover food – including meat and dairy products that otherwise can’t be composted – so they can be buried, no scrap ends up in the trash that the city of The Plot says kept a garden. At home, add inedible trash to a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with bokashi grains (available from online retailers and select local farmer’s stalls), put an airtight lid on, and let nature take its course by you add leftovers along the way. (Pro tip: Pre-made Bokashi kits also come with a spigot to drain the liquid and plant the tonic in itself.) Once the bucket is full, it sits for about 10 days and voilà! Nutrient-rich soil additive.

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