Zucchini anyone? Plan now to turn garden overflow into meals

A monthly column by Waste Management for the Valley Record.

  • Wednesday, September 18, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Is your garden brimming with cucumbers, zucchini and kale? For Snoqualmie residents gifted with green thumbs, late summer means baskets and refrigerators bursting with bounty from the garden. It can also mean wasted food if garden overflow catches you without a plan for using all those fresh fruits and veggies.

The reality is, wasted food is a serious problem all times of the year. Americans waste too much food. The average U.S. household tosses out 25 percent of the food we buy. That’s like walking out of the store with four bags of groceries, dropping one in the parking lot, and not bothering to pick it up.

When you consider the energy, water, land and fuel that go into producing and transporting food that gets wasted the impact is huge. Looking at greenhouse gases alone, the amount of food that Americans waste every year generates emissions equivalent to 39 million cars.

Luckily, a little extra planning can make a big difference in reducing waste when the garden is overflowing and year-round when meal prep leaves us with leftovers.

When the challenge is a bountiful harvest, sharing is a wonderful option. Neighbors often love a ripe, homegrown tomato or head of garden lettuce, and some neighborhoods enjoy “Garden Swaps” throughout the late summer and early fall. Additionally, many churches and community centers encourage community sharing by setting out “help yourself” boxes.

Year-round, reducing food waste begins as we make our food plans and grocery lists. Before you shop, check your fridge, freezer, and cupboards so you can plan meals with items you already have. At the store, use a list (and restraint) to avoid buying more than you need. Got leftovers? Freeze the extras or give them to friends and family. Just think of the money you’ll save. A family of four can save $1,500 per year by reducing food waste.

Another common cause of wasted food is throwing it out before it’s gone bad. Labels such as “use by,” “sell by” and “best by” are misleading and result in 90 percent of people throwing away food too soon. Except for infant formula, manufacturers use date labels to indicate peak quality, not food safety. Instead of tossing food out based on date, trust your senses. Does it look good? Does it smell good? If so, it’s likely still delicious.

For all the odds and ends that didn’t make it into a meal, get creative. Toss overripe fruit into a smoothie or wilted veggies into a soup. Stale bread is great for breadcrumbs or croutons. Check out Waste Management’s food storage and waste reduction guide for more tips.

Any food scraps that can’t be eaten should go in the food and yard waste cart, or in your compost pile. Composting food scraps allows them to naturally cycle back to the earth as nutrient-rich soil and helps conserve natural resources.

Why is reducing food waste important? The answer is simple: Because it’s good for the planet, good for the household budget, and good for your taste buds.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. To see what’s recyclable in Snoqualmie go to wmnorthwest.com/snoqualmie.

More in Life

Photo by Nityia Photography
Three simple rules for the holiday

A monthly column about mindfulness.

Santa waves to the crowd as Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson leads the crowd in an acapella version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” during the annual Winter Lights on Dec. 7. Corey Morris/staff photo
Santa Claus came to town

Photos from the 2019 Winter Lights celebration in Snoqualmie.

Erin Wakefield
Recognizing the value of veterans

A monthly column from Waste Management.

The Island’s third Pumpkin Walk is set for Oct. 27 at Luther Burbank Park. Photo courtesy of Amanda Colburn
Eastside Halloween roundup

Family-friendly seasonal events throughout the Eastside.

Raffle proceeds to benefit family of veteran who died in crane collapse

This year’s Mother Brundage raffle will benefit Andrew Yoder’s family.

Chamber proposes website to boost tourism in Valley

Three-phase project is called Gateway to the Cascades.

The Nightmare at Beaver Lake runs through Oct. 31. Take a scary stroll through Beaver Lake Park, 2600 244th Ave. SE, Sammamish. Courtesy image
Nightmare at Beaver Lake continues through Oct. 31

The Nightmare at Beaver Lake is back. Experience one of the Northwest’s… Continue reading

What happiness, etiquette, mindfulness have in common

A monthly column about mindfulness and mental wellbeing.

Photos by Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
                                Greg Giuliani outside of his home, ready to press apples for the season.
Cider making is in season

Fall City native discusses his passion for apples.

The Refuge Outdoor Festival returns for a second year to Tolt-MacDonald Park, Sept. 27-29. Photo courtesy of Sally Phnouk
Refuge Outdoor Festival returns for a second year

The festival will take place at Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation, Sept. 27-29.

Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone | Book Nook

A monthly column from the King County Library System.