Editor’s Notebook

Editor’s Notebook

By Greta Belanger deJong

Tip-to-tail, root-to-fruit: A new (old) way of eating.

We were at our corner coffee place, Coffee Noir. Jude Rubadue, friend and neighbor, said, “I woke up in the night, thinking, ‘What about all the ugly tomatoes? I’ve got to make use of the less than perfect produce!” That was a year ago. Such are a chef’s nightmares.

Then along comes NYC chef  Tyler Kord, writing A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches (Clarkson Potter: 2016), agreeing with Jude and then some: “If you want to be known as an excellent cook, then you should become a champion of the less- than-perfect ingredients… Make it a point to find food that doesn’t look great, and turn it into something that transcends itself.”

“Cosmetically challenged” food is often abandoned. People who would never malign an unattractive person reject the misshapen produce. Why? Usually it equals its more symmetrical siblings in nutritional value. Nonetheless it is a large part of the 40% of food that goes uneaten in the U.S.

Then there are the trimmings, the bones—all the parts of plants and animals we no longer typically eat, though likely our ancestors did.

It takes effort and imagination to create something delicious out of the ignored or unknown, Jude admits. And education.

Scientist and food waste expert Dana Gunders realized this, too, and wrote The Waste Free Kitchen Handbook (Chronicle Books, 2015). She says shopping skills, refrigerator management and having the right equipment helps. Jude keeps a food dryer on her kitchen counter, and uses it. “Dried bananas are way yummy,” she says. Home freezers make it easier. Canning, pickling and fermenting are reasonable skills to acquire.

This particular homely activism may not sing to everyone. But if we each made a gesture toward  being more conscious cooks and consumers, the cumulative effect would not go unnoticed on the planet. National Geographic wrote a good story about this [“Waste Not, Want Not,” March 2016.]

And food awareness is catching on. Bones, once tossed, are simmering in crockpots across the country as we learn the delicious benefits of bone broth (see June 2015 CATALYST http://www.catalystmagazine. net/bone-broth/). More people are eating the lesser-known organ meats. Charcuterie—smoking, salting, curing meat—is a useful word again.

On Sunday, October 16, you can see for yourself just how amazing tip-to-tail, root-to-fruit  cookery can be when Slow Food Utah holds its annual feast, the Feast of the Five Senses. This year’s theme: Eat It all—A Mindful Meal. Waste less. Utilize more.

Tickets are $125 (add $25 for wine). Proceeds fund Slow Food Utah’s micro-grant program for food-centric projects—for instance, a cooler for a farmer  to get meat to the market; a community cider press; a backyard flock of heritage poultry. (And then you may get to read about the projects later in CATALYST). Visit SlowFood Utah.org to reserve tickets.

Greta Belanger deJong is the editor and publisher of CATALYST.

This article was originally published on October 2, 2016.