With exceptions to those whom follow plant based diets, many conversations surrounding the world of fruit and vegetable predominantly revolve around “being one of your 5-a-day” or being vaguely labeled as “healthy foods”. However, Vegetables as a food group is far broader than the beans we give it credit for. The diverse array of vegetables varieties and fruit types vary from country to country whether it is as a result of the taste of the populace or due to their particular climate.
This page takes a look in to this world which is so strongly associated with our health and the ways in which you can make your life greener with your kitchen waste.
Go Local, It’s healthier.
From the farm to the fridge, the nutritional value of both vegetables and fruit begin to depreciate the longer the period of time, as such it is important to try and get your fruit and veg as local as possible. This is also particularly relevant with regards to frozen fruit and vegetables, while the flavour and texture may remain, their rich nutrients do not. This is not to say that frozen fruit and veg are a no go. Indeed, Frozen foods are a great way to have fruit that is ready to use whenever and vegetables to fill out your meals without going off too soon. However when compared to their fresh equivalent, it is always healthier to go fresher.
In recent years, supermarkets have made a stronger emphasis on getting fruit and veg as local as possible, however this simple decision is more beneficial than first meets the eye. In addition to cutting travel costs, the more local we get our fruit and veg the higher in nutrients they are. Once ripe and have reached their peak, fruit and vegetables both begin to depreciate in nutritional value, so the more travel time we can cut off, the better our food is for us.
The same can also be said for certain super-fruit/super foods. While an avocado may be nutritionally rich enough to gain a title as a super fruit, once these fruit have been shipped over to the UK, their health qualities are not the same. However it is important to appreciate that while certain vegetables that are high in nutrients like iron. While certain foods may be high in nutrients when they are initially ripe, once they have been exported and transported to the supermarket, the same can not be said for their condition once this time has lapsed.
While supermarkets are making a step in the right direction, they still enforce strict rules upon the agricultural sector. This may be seen when we see products such as “wonky carrots” on our shelves. If certain fruit or vegetables are not the ‘correct’ shape they ‘should’ be, regardless of their quality or taste, supermarkets will refuse to stock them. This causes many fruit and veg to go to waste for not meeting aesthetic standards.
To combat these beauty standards against our fruit and veg companies such as Oddbox have grown to offer vegetable-lovers and fruit-philes locally sourced fresh produce that either isn’t straight enough or is too large to be sold in the supermarkets. Their monthly, weekly and bi-weekly subscriptions include a surprise array of grown foods which allows you to have a cheap supply of healthy foods that continuously refreshes throughout the weeks with new stock to keep your diet exciting and your meals nutritious.
Self-Sustaining Fruit and Veg
Seeing plants grow and flourish throughout your life as you go about from day to day can be beneficial in many ways; A fantastic way to subsides your food shop, make your home greener and a healthy lifestyle project. Keeping plants alive can be so good for your mental health, giving you routine to your day like making your bed at the start of the day, the only difference is that your bed doesn’t die if you don’t look after it.
Looking for a house plant but don’t want to fork out for a plant? Why not grow an Avocado tree? Using the predominantly thrown-away Avocado stones, this fast growing plant is perfect for making the inside of your home a little greener. Simply, remove the stone from the centre of the Avocado, carefully remove the thin outer layer and wrap this pip in damp paper and place in a plastic bag. Leave this bag in a dark place for 2 week for the stone to germinate, remove once a root appears from the stone and place suspended over water. You’ll have a plant in no time.
If Growing plants isn’t for you, Why not ReGrow Food from your Kitchen waste?
Herbs: Growing herbs from stem cuttings can be done all year round and is is a great way of growing multiple plants from one parent plant, constantly increasing your yields. Whether it is Coriander, Parsley, Mint, Basil, Oregano or whatever you want.
All you need is to:
- Take a 10cm stem cutting from a herb plant below a node (a node is where the leaves grow from).
- Strip the cutting of all leaves apart from 3 or 4 on the top.
- Place this cutting into a glass of water and place in indirect light.
- Initially the roots will grow and then the cutting will show early signs of leaf/stem growth, it is then time to plant it into a pot of loose potting soil.
- Repeat the process once your new plant has grown significantly.
Spring Onion: Perhaps one of the easiest to grow, All you need to regrown Spring onions is some spring onions and a cup of water.
- by cutting the green top of the spring onion and leave 3-5cm of the white root base intact.
- After this, place this section in a shallow jar of water and submerging half of the plant.
- Look after by leaving in a sunny spot and changing the water every other day.
- Harvest your Re-Grown spring onions directly from the jar when ready.
If you’re a lettuce lover it seems crazy to not grow your own. Why fork out £1 for a bag of leaves which will wilt within a few days when you can have an unlimited supply that stays fresh for whenever you want. This works best with Little Gem or Romaine lettuce varieties.
All you need is to do is Simply:
- Save the root section at the bottom of the lettuce;
- Cut lettuce leaves, making sure to leave 3-5cm of height on the root section;
- Place it in a bowl with enough water to submerge the roots (around 1cm);
- Place this in a sunny position and change the water every other day;
- After two weeks, when the lettuce sprouts new leaves and roots, you should plant it out into potting soil for prolonged growth;
- Harvest when the leaves grow to baby leaf size (10cm).
Celery Similar to the method of regrowing Lettuce, Celery can be regrown from the base of a mature plant.
- Cut all celery stems off, leaving 3-5cm of stem at the root section.
- After this, place the root base in a bowl with warm-ish water.
- Place the cutting in a warm and sunny position and change the water every other day.
- When the celery sprouts new leaves, you should plant it out into soil.
- Harvest when the plant has large, healthy stalks and keep it going and growing.
Carrots tops: While growing entire carrots is not as easy, we are able to easily cultivate vitamin C and K rich Carrot tops. These nutritious leafy greens are best blanched or Sautéed.
All you need to do is:
- Cut a 2-3cm section from the top of a carrot and dry it out over 3-4 days by leaving it in a cool, dry place as to prevent rotting.
- Place the dry cutting into potting soil. Submerge most of the cutting in the soil so only the top of the carrot is exposed.
- Place the pot on a sunny windowsill and water when the first 2-3cm of soil is dry.
- Harvest the carrot tops after 2-3 weeks.
Ginger: All you need to regrown fresh ginger is a spare section of Ginger however these things take time so you must be patient.
- Get yourself a thumb-sized piece of ginger (the bigger, the faster the growth) and find bump protrusions (eyes) on the surface of the ginger, these eyes are where new shoots grow from so ensure your Ginger section has at least 1.
- Prepare a pot with potting soil, it is important that you use a wide, shallow pot. New Ginger pieces will grow horizontally near the surface of the soil and need this space to spread out.
- Plant the piece of ginger flat into the soil, cover with only 1cm of soil and give the pot a good watering once. It’s best to maintain a humid, warm growing environment with lots of sun so these plants can thrive. Water regularly once shoots develop.
- Move containers outdoors in the summer and remember to bring containers back indoors when temperatures drop below 10°C.
- Harvest ginger when the leaves begin to turn yellow, this can be after 8-10 months.
Garlic: Regrowing old and dry garlic cloves is a greater way to get fresh garlic (But Fresh garlic cloves will grow faster) Optimum planting dates are between November and April in the UK.
- Split a garlic bulb, leaving the skin on each of the cloves.
- Place the garlic cloves upright into a shallow bowl or jar, with only the bottom of the clove submerged in water.
- Place in a sunny position and maintain by replacing the old water every other day.
- Once the shoots have grown you can finish here, by harvesting them. They are great in pesto or as garnishes for a fresh garlic flavour!
- If you want to grow full garlic bulbs, you need to plant these sprouted cloves into soil. Use a deep pot which is at least 1ft wide and plant one clove per pot.
- Full bulbs approximately take 9 months to mature; they are ready when around half of the leaves turn yellow.