Food waste is a topic near and dear to my heart, but the truth is, no matter how dutiful we are about finding ways to double-down on food scraps, a lot of stuff goes into the trash needlessly.
Composting is the obvious answer. This is the process of taking organic waste (things like fruit and vegetable scraps, peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, etc.) and turning it into a rich, dark fertilizer called humus. It actually seems pretty easy to start, once you know the basics. People who compost tend to have the most enviable yards and gardens.
There are many ways to collect food scraps before they go in your compost pile (traditionally kept outside, since being exposed to air and light speed up the process of decay). One option is to make this $5 DIY compost bin and keep it on your patio/balcony.
However, if you're a little squeamish about the potential smell factor, you can still compost in-house (perfect for apartment dwellers) with this anaerobic system from SCD Probiotics. It uses fermentation rather than oxygen to speed up the process so you can have usable compost without needing an outdoor compost pile. Plus, you can compost meat, bones, and dairy with this system, too.
This is perfect for creating humus to use on your houseplants and container/window box gardens. (If you've got a nice apartment manager and some outdoor space in your building, consider asking if you can use a few square feet to grow some stuff.) Check out the video below on how to use the system.
And if you live in Canada, you can also purchase the Red Dragon Compost bin, a super-cool electric composter. This bad boy composts all the usual scraps plus normally forbidden items like dairy, meat, and dog waste. It's about the size of a mini-fridge and uses electricity to speed up the composting process so you get usable fertilizer within 24 hours. It's pricey, but people who have one rave about it. Check it out in action:
The company behind the Red Dragon, Green Good Composter, has been acquired by Oklin and has a regional manager that can be contacted if you're interested in purchasing the product in the USA or Canada.
And if you're not quite ready to take the plunge and start composting just yet, you still might want to save your food scraps for someone who does. Check with neighbors and see if any have compost piles you can donate to. Some community gardens often have compost bins where you can add your trash, too.
Great kitchen tools make your cooking life so much more interesting. Who knew that a potato ricer could be such a multipurpose marvel? Or that an indoor smokeless grill (that's not the George Foreman) could be so effective? And if you're serious about slow cookers, check out the Moroccan tagine: it might be the OG slow cooker, for real.