T.The zero-waste food movement is gaining momentum, and it couldn’t come soon enough. After all, the FDA estimates that around 30 to 40 percent of food in the US is wasted, meaning it is thrown away, spoiled, or otherwise not getting into your mouth and stomach. With recent findings that more than a third of man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems, reducing food waste could go a long way in saving the planet.
With this troubling news in mind, it’s no wonder chefs like Ryan Moore of Sababa, Washington, DC are committed to reducing their food waste footprint. “From our used oil from deep fryers that are recycled into biofuel, to reusing scraps into menu items, we’re finding a way to turn the most basic parts of an ingredient into something our customers will eat,” he explains. For example, Moore’s team turns lemon peel into lemon charcoal, which is then boiled with honey to make a jam. Broccoli stalks are incorporated into a charred tahini sauce; Fruit residues such as strawberry tips, mango pits and citrus peel are processed into vinegar.
That said, your good intentions to reduce food waste shouldn’t lead to bad side effects. When trying to eat the entire ingredient, you may want to keep an eye on which parts of your favorite fruits and vegetables are safe for human consumption – and which are better to compost. As it turns out, there are some foods that shouldn’t be included in your diet (at least, not on a regular basis).
Scroll down to learn more about 7 Inedible Leftovers
This is the only food waste Chef Moore doesn’t use in his kitchen. “We go through about 90 pounds of Chinese eggplants a week and cut off the top of the stem because eggplants and other nightshades contain solanine, which can cause inflammation and worsen conditions like arthritis,” he explains.
Dried, fresh, or frozen mango are enjoyed in so many ways, but be sure to peel them before you eat them. The peels of these tropical fruits contain a chemical called urushiol, which causes an allergic reaction in some people when they come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac.
“The pit and seeds of an apple may not be the safest to eat because a compound in it can turn into cyanide,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian. “However, it is the dose that creates the poison, and you would have to eat a fairly large amount (say 15 kernels) to get a reaction.”
Sprouted or Green Potatoes
Those strange growths on your potatoes are more than a thorn in your side. When potatoes sprout (or turn green), they contain higher levels of a glycoalkaloid poison known as solanine. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include a number of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, sore throat, nightmares, headache, dizziness, itching, eczema, and joint pain. That said, if you cut out the sprouts or green parts of your potato, you should be a-okay.
While rhubarb stalks make a great cake filling, the leaves are less inviting. “Rhubarb leaves are known to contain oxalic acid, and when eaten they can lead to kidney stones,” says Gans.
It is likely worth pitting your cherries when making your desserts or reductions – not only will the end result be much more appealing, but it will also eliminate the possibility of introducing the cyanide compound in it into your system. And while swallowing a few pits won’t do you any harm, you probably shouldn’t make a habit of eating cherries whole.
Waste left out at room temperature
Controlling the storage of your leftovers – no matter what – is key to ensuring their edibility, says Krista Linares, registered nutritionist. “The biggest food safety concern for leftover food or leftovers would be related to time-temperature control,” she notes. “Food that has been left at room temperature for more than four hours should be avoided because of the possibility of food-borne illness.”
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