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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Courtesy photo. Scott Brittain and his son Ryker at Blake’s Pizzeria in Carnation (before state regulations for COVID-19 mandated restaurants switch to takeout only). Scott has been a customer since he was a kid, and now he and his family are still regulars.
In Carnation, Blake’s carries on with carryout

Community supports local pizzeria during COVID-19 pandemic.

Savannah Lynn and Will Chadek in the Second Story Repertory of Redmond’s production of “The Fantasticks.” “The Fantasticks” had been performed three times by the organization until coronavirus concerns resulted in the cancellation of the remaining dates. Photo by Michael Brunk
How is the coronavirus affecting the arts?

Representatives from Eastside arts institutions discuss their experiences.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Ralphs family after their home along the Raging River was yellow-tagged. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Ralphs Family GoFundMe page
Family of four forced to leave home along Raging River in Preston

Erosion has deemed the house yellow-tagged by King County services.

Courtesy photo
                                The Snoqualmie Valley Evergreens 4-H club will host a rabbit show on Feb. 29 in North Bend.
4-H rabbit show on Feb. 29 in North Bend

The show is open to the public. There is no admission for spectators.

Courtesy photo
                                North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland (R) presents the 2019 Citizen of the Year award to North Bend resident Beth Burrows at the city’s Feb. 4, 2020 council meeting.
North Bend’s Citizen of the Year

Beth Burrows recognized for outstanding contributions to the community.

Making a human connection in a sea of social media

A monthly health column about natural medicine.

(Pixabay photo)
Master Gardeners workshop on Feb. 15

Topics include soil, food and climate change.

The archway at last year’s Relay For Life of Snoqualmie Valley event. Courtesy photo
Relay For Life of Snoqualmie Valley kickoff

Dessert auction event Feb. 1.

Award-winning play ‘The Good Adoptee’ coming to Mercer Island

The autobiographical drama was penned by acclaimed playwright Suzanne Bachner.

Embrace the struggle for a complete picture | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and general wellbeing.