Each year the United States racks up a bill of roughly $1.3 trillion dollars because of the 1.3 billion tons of food it wastes. American families have fallen into a cycle of over purchasing and then wasting the excess because of minor blemishes or the product is a day past expiration. In order to combat food waste on a household scale, people can begin experimenting with fermentation.
Fermented products have taken the internet by storm because of their positive health effects. While companies are able to charge a premium on these products, they can be created on a small scale right from your kitchen. Fermentation can also aid in bridging the disconnect families have with their food, which in turn helps reduce food wastes in landfill and ultimately reduces environmental stressors.
Few people know the environmental impacts of discarded food scraps- we think that if something like lettuce can break down in our refrigerators in a matter of days then it will do the same once it reaches the landfill.
According to New York Time’s article ‘Seeking the Truth in Reuse’ a head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill.
Once the food is covered with tons of other things, it lacks the proper amount of oxygen needed to break down.
Due to the delayed decomposition rates, an abundance of greenhouse gas methane which is more volatile than CO2 is emitted.
So what should we do with the fruits and vegetables that are past their fresh crunch? Ferment them. Not only does fermentation increase shelf stability of sensitive produce, but it introduces different textures and taste not found in the everyday diet.
If you give fermentation a quick google you can find countless recipes that extend beyond your average sweet and salty pickles.
Not sure what to do with all of those berries you bought last week because of the health kick you were on? Try emerging them in raw honey and tossing them in a cabinet. After three to five days the berries will develop an effervescence, making the perfect spread for a fresh baguette or using them as a topping for an unexpected twist on an ice-cream sundae.
Cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, carrots and just about anything can be transformed into some type of pickle. Kombucha is also an option when experimenting with fermentation, all it takes is a bit of tea, a SCOBY starter and lots of sugar.
By introducing fermentation to your household, it helps reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. Not only will it save you money, help better your environmental footprint but your friends will also be impressed by your new found culinary skills.