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How To Be A Zero-Waste Foodie

“Zero waste isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Unlike pregnancy - you either are or you aren’t - you can live a little bit zero waste.” ~ Anne-Marie Bonneau

I didn’t plan to review another book about zero-waste systems in the kitchen, but I finally got a hold of a copy of The Zero-Waste Chef, and then, I stumbled upon the book How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving The House. These two recently-published books are truly a delight to read!

The Zero-Waste Chef by Anne-Marie Bonneau is a full-fledged cookbook filled with mouth-watering recipes. She starts with myriad facts behind the plastic pollution and food waste crises, including microfibers from certain reusable bags. She advocates that one brings a zero-waste kit consisting of reusable shopping bags, a water bottle, cutlery, cloth napkin, and containers when on the go. Encouraging one to start their zero-waste journey with a waste audit, she describes how her own quest to become plastic-free has made her healthier with the elimination of packaged foods. Highly processed, packaged foods not only create excessive waste and higher carbon emissions but are nutritionally poor. In other words, by eating more whole foods, you'll be healthier and have a smaller carbon footprint!

She declares that by making one’s kitchen zero-waste, one becomes self-sufficient. Bonneau provides recipes for baking breads, creating dips from scratch, fermenting vegetables, and producing broth from leftover vegetable scraps. She discusses proper storage of produce and the use of glass jars for storing food, especially when freezing. The author lists basic tools, small appliances, and cookware that are needed for a zero-waste kitchen and encourages secondhand purchases. As any good zero-waster, she advises to buy bulk, through CSAs, and at farmers' markets as much as possible. She advocates composting whether it's by vermicomposting, yard composting, or a commercial service. She also points out that eating local, seasonal, and organic reduces one’s environmental footprint. The Zero-Waste Chef has made me fall in love with fermentation (a type of food preservation) all over again and inspired me to try making sauerkraut once more and new fermented foods, such as Preserved Lemons and Spicy Ginger Beer.

As The Zero-Waste Chef encourages us to cook like our grandmothers, Claire Ratinon’s book shows how to grow one’s own food, even in a small apartment. A surprise find, How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving The House is easy to follow and well-organized. The author devotes concise chapters for each vegetable, ranging from salads to eggplants, and how to grow them in containers.

Ratinon states, “Growing plants has led me to more than just delicious fresh produce. It has been a gateway to better mental and physical health. It has allowed me to access a deep gratitude for all those who have a role in growing our food, and it has enabled me to connect with the natural world that supports us and with the seasons through which we move every year. Most, importantly, it has prompted me to cultivate an ever-expanding awareness of the systems that feed us, and to do my best to tread as lightly on our extraordinary Earth as I can.”

The author discusses the necessity for different compost materials and site planning specifically for container gardening. She describes how to grow from seed to harvesting the final produce. Ratinon even teaches about good plant hygiene to keep your future food healthy, such as proper spacing between plants to allow air circulation. And to toughen up indoor seedlings, one strokes or sets a fan on them to mimic wind. She continues her instruction with details on watering needs, plant fertilizers, protection from pests and diseases, companion planting, and seed saving. As an apartment dweller, her composting system of choice is vermicomposting or a wormery. After reading her book, I feel motivated to create a wall garden of vegetables (as I have no windowsills or available floor space in my small place.)

I can’t recommend these two books enough, for they will inspire any foodie to take a step further in becoming more self-sufficient on their zero-waste journey.

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