Cut, peel, de-seed, chop…that’s the way we have been eating fruits and vegetables all our life. However, this established norm of chopping and peeling results in loss of nearly half of the fruits and vegetables we consume. Not only does this lead to wastage of humongous proportions, but it also means losing some of the most nutrient dense portions of these foods. This means that valuable nutrients end up in the garbage instead of our bodies. We wouldn’t need to spend a fortune buying artichokes and kales of the world from multi-national food stores if we ate the stems, peels and roots of most fruits and vegetables we buy. That’s why people all over the world are embracing the idea of root to stem eating.
The way of root to stem eating is not particularly new. It has been a part of vegan diets for a long time and eventually found favour with vegetarians too. Thanks to enthusiastic promotion of the benefits of eating every part of a fruit or vegetable by its practitioners, root to stem eating has emerged as one of the hottest food trends of present times. As the idea continues to gain traction, here is everything you need to know about root to stem eating:
What is Root to Stem Eating?
As the name suggests, root to stem eating is all about consuming vegetable and fruits as a whole instead of trimming them down to only consume the ‘viable’ portions and discarding the rest. This food trend is essentially an extension of the nose-to-tail movement where vegetable parts that would normally end up in the trash are brought to the table instead. Root to stem eating extends this thought to cover both vegetables and fruits by rethinking our entire approach to consuming these nutrient powerhouses. As a result, the so-called ‘scraps’ such as lemon rind, apple skin, carrot tops, potato peel and cauliflower or broccoli stalks are incorporated in the food we eat.
Unlike most fad food trends of the present time that tend to border on the bizarre, root to stem eating actually promotes a more mindful outlook toward our food consumption, allowing people to load up on nutrients and cut back on food wastage.
Advantages of Root to Stem Eating
One of the top benefits of root to stem eating is that it helps us maximise the benefits plants have to offer. Peels and seeds of fruits, as well as stems and leaves of vegetables, may not always be the tastiest but they are proven to be more nutrient-dense than the ‘edible’ parts. So, when you consume fruit or vegetable in its entirety, you are optimising your nutrient intake.
Besides reducing the amount of food waste generated day after day, root to stem eating is a great way to cut back on the money spent on buying fresh produce. As the focus of eating habits around the world tips in favour of plant-based foods, root to stem eating is a great way to make that shift sustainable and clean.
Basically, root to stem eating is an excellent way to eat and live guilt-free.
Incorporating Root to Stem Eating in Your Lifestyle
As with any food trend, root to stem eating too can trigger a lot of inhibitions about where to begin and how to incorporate it into your lifestyle. The easiest way to adopt root to stem eating is to just start using fresh fruits and vegetables as they are. For instance, make aalo-gobhi using cauliflower leaves and stems and potatoes with the peel. Or cook carrots without peeling or chopping their head of, spinach and fenugreek with their stems intact. Eat apples and kiwi with their peel on and watermelons and oranges without de-seeding.
If you cannot start consuming the traditional fruit and vegetable waste straight up, you can also use these trimmings to make soups and smoothies. For instance, castaways such as carrot peels and cauliflower stems can be great additions to vegetable stock or clear soup. Similarly, banana, melon peels and pineapple core make for great additions to fruit smoothies.
The quality of produce in India is not half as good as it is the West, so you have to be careful about washing and cleaning these fruits and vegetables thoroughly so that root to stem eating doesn’t end up adding insects and worms to your plate.