Let’s tackle food waste – Growing veggies from food scraps!

food scraps - celery

Did you know that one-third of the world’s food just goes to waste? And in South Africa alone, we waste approximately 10 million tonnes of food each year! That’s crazy; and as a country struggling with drought and poverty, food just isn’t something we can afford to waste. According to the most recent WWF report on food waste in South Africa, a significant portion of food wastage happens before it even reaches our plates; so it’s something that we all need to tackle! From the farmers, to the distributors & retailers, and finally to the end consumer, we all have a role to play.

And sometimes, just a few small changes can help. As consumers, we aren’t always in control of what happens before our food finds its way into our homes, but we can control how much food we throw away. Do you ever think about where your food scraps go? Food waste that ends up in a landfill doesn’t decompose properly, but rather just contributes to the production of methane gas and carbon dioxide.

But did you know that that there are many veggies that’ll happily re-grow from the food scraps you’d normally chuck away, here’s some of our favourites:

1. Celery, fennel, leeks, spring onions, cabbage, lemongrass…all these food scraps love to grow again! pop the ‘butts’ (the white root ends) into a little water, and place on a sunny shelf. Very soon you’ll see roots sprouting and green leaves growing! Make sure to freshen the water every few days, and they’ll keep growing! Cut the shoots as you need them, or once the plant has grown a little, transplant into a container, or straight into the ground!  

2. Pineapples make for very pretty houseplants! For pineapples, remove the green top from the fruit, and make sure to clean the base, leaving no fruity pieces intact. Then, follow the steps above, and once the roots have grown, transplant into a container and watch it grow for years to come. It just looks like a happy cactus!

3. Ginger is also very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the knobbly part you’re used to cooking with) in potting soil with the smallest buds facing upwards. Keep it warm and moist, and pop it in a dappled sunny spot. Soon it will grow shoots and roots. Once the plant is established, pull the whole plant up, and remove some of the rhizome. Then just re-plant! It’s also a very pretty houseplant!

Using your food scraps to regrow veggies is not only a good way to reduce the food you’re throwing away, but it’s also a great way to teach your kids about the food we eat, where it comes from, how it grows, and importantly, how to appreciate it, rather than waste it. It can be a really fun family project, and who knows, you might end up with a little veggie garden as a result!

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