According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a third of all foods is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people. This represents 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted per year. The most disappointing part, in Canada, almost half of that waste happens right in our own homes: 47% are wasted when we throw food out in the garbage.  Every Canadian throws out about $400.00 of food every year, and the category wasted the most is fruits and vegetables.
There are lots of ways to minimize food waste, one of those is to use as much of what we purchase as possible. We are currently throwing out a lot of parts of the food item that’s completely edible. If we use them entirely we can reduce our food waste and save money.
An example; carrot tops are not only good for rabbits or for your compost! They’re completely edible and are delicious if you use them properly. Here are three easy ways to get started.
- Make homemade pesto
Traditionally made with basil, pesto can also be made with vegetable leaves, like your carrot tops. Pesto is easy to make and adds itself easily to your meals! You can serve the pesto on pasta, use it to marinade chicken or even spread on your sandwiches.
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- Carrot tops from 5 carrots, roughly chopped (approx. 2 cups)
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- The juice from ½ lemon
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Chop up the nuts and roast them in the oven at 375F for a few minutes. Set aside
- Add carrot tops, garlic, lemon juice, basil, parmesan cheese and roasted nuts to your food processor. Add your salt and pepper. Blend until you have a puree.
- While you are still blending, add your olive oil slowly. Scrape the sides down with a spatula and keep blending until you get your desired consistency.
Your pesto will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator. To make your pesto last longer, try freezing individual portions in a freezer try and pop them out when you need them. Since pesto will brown when exposed add a thin layer of olive oil to the surface to prevent oxidation.
- Replace your basil
Did you know that basil is in the same family as carrots? This means that your carrot top can easily replace basil in recipes. For example, you can add them to your favourite soup, or replace the basil in this easy falafel recipe.
You can also use them to make this creative and delicious carrot salad.
- Add them to your smoothie
Have you been on trend with green smoothies? The next time you make your smoothie, try replacing kale or spinach with your carrot tops for a nutritious options that reduces your food waste. Get inspired with this recipe and replace all or part of the spinach leaves with your carrot tops, or another green you’ve got on hand.
Have these recipes inspired you to save those carrot tops? Do you have any food waste tips you can share with us?
Written by Marie-Ève Caplette, Registered Dietitian and Half Your Plate On Campus Ambassador