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Question about common areas of waste, for Linda Ly

 
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Hi Linda, and thanks again for joining us. I'm curious about the most common and/or unfortunate kinds of waste that you see. I have this on my mind because it was just this year that I learned I could chop and sauté the whole green garlic plant; up until this year, I only used the white part. Now I cringe to think of all the nutritious and flavorful stalks and leaves that I composted. I would love to read your reply, or anyone else's reply, and find out if I am wasting other edible stuff!
 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Oh my, where do I even begin?!

Almost every vegetable you see in the store is edible from top to tail, as are most vegetables you grow in your yard. So, if you have a tendency to toss out the leaves of any of your root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes), the green ends of your leeks, kale stems, chard stalks, even fava bean pods... you might be surprised to learn they are all edible!

Take a peek at my book on Amazon using the "Look Inside" feature... in the table of contents, you'll find a list of my recipes that give you an idea of all the unconventional parts of plants that can be turned into incredible meals!
 
Heather Ward
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I just got your book, and it is wonderful (also, BTW, the photography is gorgeous.) I was greatly amused to see a soup flavored with chile leaves. I remember once mentioning on a gardening forum that they could be used as a seasoning, and getting flamed by indignant forum members for telling people to eat something so poisonous. The forum moderator added as the last word "the leaves of all nightshades are poisonous. Period. Don't you know that?" All I could think was, wow, the whole Southeast Asian region would be surprised to hear that...
I am looking forward to trying your chard stem hummus when my chard is bigger. That's the sort of creative recipe that I love.
 
Linda Ly
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Thanks Heather!

And I think it will take a while for the American culture to embrace vegetables like pepper leaves until we start to see more recipes for them and farmers start selling them at farmers' markets. I hope it will eventually catch on! Pepper leaves are delicious.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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This whole topic of discussion has been disturbing to me since it was first proposed... At first, I thought that Cassie had just misunderstood, or misquoted something...

As a farmer, I find myself greatly disturbed by the idea that "the whole plant is edible". Rocks are edible. Tree limbs are edible. Cardboard is edible. All you gotta do is get them into small enough pieces to be able to swallow them. Just because I can swallow something, doesn't mean that I would want to. I find a lot of the parts of plants in my garden fall into that category. Eating the leaves of my garlic today is about the same texture as eating paper. Eating the hulls of pumpkin seeds is about the same as eating balsa wood. I really don't enjoy eating paper or balsa wood. I avoid it whenever possible.

If I were making a basket for a CSA, and knew that someone felt that they had an obligation to eat everything that I provided, both root and leaf, I might choose to be passive/aggressive with them, and provide lots of unpalatable fibrous roots and leaves with fibres that are so tough that they could make rope out of them. Or perhaps I could provide them with rhubarb leaves and attempt to give them oxalic acid poisoning.

Or I might choose to go the opposite direction, and say to myself, "If they are not able to discern which parts of the plants taste great, and which parts are too fibrous or too nasty tasting, then for the sake of my reputation as a farmer, I'll cut the unpalatable parts off before sharing".

I don't mind if someone wants to eat the beet leaves. I even do it myself sometimes. I'd think them odd to eat carrots leaves, because the flavor is way too strong for my liking... Whatever. People like what they like. But eating the fibrous roots of onions, or the dried papery outer layer? I can't imagine anyone that would willingly do that. I can't imagine that anyone would eat the husks of the sweet corn, or it's cob. Sure they are perfectly fine to eat, but that's more of a food fit to feed ruminants, and not primates.

As soon as I get done writing this post, perhaps I'll draw up bylaws for a new food group: "People Admitting That Pumpkin Seed Hulls Are Inedible".
 
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Linda Ly wrote:

Almost every vegetable

you see in the store is edible from top to tail, as are most vegetables you grow in your yard.

I see you qualified how many veges.
 
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Joseph, et al.......first I'd like to define "edible". Per my dictionary it's "fit to be eaten; food". So I would not include soil, rocks, cardboard and such as edible even though one could swallow them. The same goes for gasoline, bleach, paint and more as not being considered edible. With that out of the way...........

Most of the plant parts that people discard I agree are truly edible, though perhaps not via the same recipes or cooking use. I routinely use onion skins, garlic tops, carrot greens, broccoli stalks, and other veggie discards for making stock. Once cooked, these items are removed from my stock and fed to my animals, thus not wasted. My pigs and chickens relish them.

As for pumpkin and sunflower hulls, I don't eat them myself because I have other uses for them. But if I needed more fiber in my diet and did not have another ready source, by all means I'd turn to adding hulls in some fashion. Some folks need that extra fiber, so why buy jars of fiber from a pharmacy when seed hulls are available in the house? I suppose it all depends upon your own situation.....as with so many things about permaculture.

Oh those corn cobs, they make a great corny, sweet stock. I simmer my discarded corn cobs. Then afterward they go to either the rabbits or the pigs. Zero waste.

Judging from the emails that my blog generates, there are plenty of people out there who are trying to learn how to be more self reliant, or less wasteful, or are simply trying to stretch their food dollars. So I see no problem with sharing ideas about using more of the various vegetable parts. Oh there are still plenty of people who don't mind throwing away beet greens, turnip tops, or whatever they weren't raised to eat. My own mother still peels carrots and throws away the skins, and also won't eat the skin of baked potatoes. But I've discovered that those parts are just fine to use and eat. Oh well, to each their own.
 
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