Vegetarianism and veganism are so common now that even the meat lovers among us have started incorporating some of those habits into our diet. The “root-to-stem” trend of eating has made waves this year for not only making food more interesting, but promoting good health and minimal waste.
So what exactly is this recent trend? Root-to-stem eating is the logical extension of the nose-to-tail movement, with vegetable trimmings that would normally end up in the bin, end up on the plate. The movement rethinks how we cook and prepare vegetables. Items once considered “scraps” – potato peel, carrot tops, broccoli stalks and lemon rind – become part of the end dish.
At the forefront of the trend is eco chef and restaurateur Tom Hunt, who implemented the root-to-stem movement at his award-winning restaurants in Bristol and London. “I decided to come up with the term ‘root-to-fruit’ eating when I started focusing on sustainability in my cooking,” he explains. “We’ve lost our connection with the origins of our fruits, vegetables and ingredients. I believe the more whole our ingredients are and closer to their original condition – how they were at harvest – the healthier they are for us to eat.”
Not only does this trend help increase vegetable intake, it’s combatting food wastage, too. A key finding from the Save Food joint initiative between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Messe Düsseldorf as well as other agencies found that “fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers, have the highest wastage rates of any food.”
Not only do these figures have a significant human impact but there is a great environmental impact. Over a five-year period methane gas from decomposing vegetables generates 100 times more heat into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Embrace the root-to stem trend by trying beetroot leaves, pickled watermelon rinds, asparagus stems and more.