Food waste – we’re all guilty of it. How many of us have thrown away a full bag of baby spinach because it’s past its expiration date? I think we can all admit to cutting off the tops of bell peppers and tossing them in the trash. And those brown, squishy grapes at the bottom of the bag? Pitch ‘em!
Most of us don’t think twice about trashing produce that’s past its prime. It’ll break down and absorb back into the earth. Right? Not exactly! When food is disposed in a landfill it rots and becomes a significant source of methane - a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Considering there’s an estimated 70 billion pounds of food waste in America each year, we’ve got a big problem on our hands.
Not only is throwing away food harmful to the planet, it takes a serious toll on our bank accounts. The average American household throws away about $640 worth of food every year. To put that in perspective, you could buy a new 55-inch flat screen TV with that kind of money!
While composting is the obvious answer to this environmental crisis, wouldn’t it be even better if you could just eat the foods you’re throwing away? In many cases, you can! In fact, some of the healthy foods you’re tossing in the trash bin provide a lot of the nutrients you need for a well-balanced vegan diet. Here’s a look at a few of them.
5 Healthy Foods You're (Accidentally) Throwing Away
- Cantaloupe seeds
Often discarded along with the rinds, cantaloupe seeds are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Don’t throw these little guys away! Instead, toss them with olive oil and roast in the oven for a nutrient-packed snack, just as you would with pumpkin seeds.
- Onion skins
Usually, your eyes are so watery after peeling and chopping onions that you want to bury the skins in the trash ASAP. Don’t! Onion skins are high in quercetin, a compound that can help lower your blood pressure and support a healthy immune system. Add them to a soup or stew for extra flavor and pick them out before serving.
- Watermelon rinds
The green part of a watermelon is more than just something to hold onto while enjoying the delicious fruit. Watermelon rinds contain the amino acid citrulline, which can help improve your blood flow. Throw them in a high-power blender with the watermelon flesh, strawberries and a splash of orange juice to make a smoothie.
- Celery Tops
The leafy tops of celery stalks are often thrown away without a second thought. Next time, use them like an herb and add them to a yummy veggie soup. Our Red Lentil Soup with Lemon is a fantastic one. You’ll be getting the added benefit of muscle-building magnesium, bone-strengthening calcium, and vitamin C.
- Orange Peels
The tough exterior of an orange does more than just protect the juicy fruit inside. Orange peels are rich in fiber, which aids in digestion, and they also pack a good amount of vitamin C. Try using a cheese grater to gently zest an orange before you peel or cut it. You can use it to make spicy orange tofu or add it to cookies.