Ways to reduce food waste

New life: It's easy to regrow your springies.
New life: It's easy to regrow your springies. 

1. Embrace the ugly. Between 20 and 40 per cent of fruit and vegetables grown in Australia are rejected for cosmetic reasons before they even reach the shops. It's bonkers. Support those supermarkets who are changing their buying policies to help our small-scale farmers, and stop being picky. In NSW, Harris Farm leads by example with its Imperfect Fruit campaign, inspired by France's Intermarche supermarket.  

2. The cupboard is a graveyard. Most of us have forgotten what lurks in the depths of our own pantry. Do an audit (oh wow, four packets of pumpkin seeds), bring those at the back to the front, and use everything before it goes off or out of fashion.

3. Get creative. Turn soft fruits into ice-cream; vegetables into curry; green leaves into smoothies; tomatoes long past their prime into jam or sugo (pasta sauce) (see recipe) below. Scrub coriander roots and stalks and freeze for curry paste. Pickle everything. Turn brown bananas into a brilliant, non-dairy ice-cream with real banana-boy flavour: peel, chop and freeze three bananas overnight, soften for 15 minutes then whiz in a food processor with a handful of berries until thick, smooth and creamy.

4. Don't buy too much. The best way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Don't shop for food without having a specific intention for it.

5. Buy nose-to-tail – the whole chicken, the whole fish. Eating only the prime cuts and fillets is a bit like ivory-hunting and shark-fin harvesting.

6. Buy leaf-to-stalk. Beetroot with its leaves intact gives you two brilliant dishes: one of just-wilted greens tossed with feta, the other of roast beetroot or borscht. And who knew that carrot tops made a beautiful creamy pesto? (Thanks toBon Appetit magazine for the tip).

7. Take use-by dates as guidelines, and don't toss too soon. Food science author Harold McGee calls them "maybe-getting-interesting-by" dates.

8. Don't peel tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, peaches or pears before cooking – trees and plants store a lot of good nutrients in the skins to protect what's inside.

9. Regrow your vegies.  To regrow spring onions, cut off 6 cm of the white root end, plant in a sunny spot with about one-centimetre of stalk above ground, and water in. Like a miracle, they'll grow tall and strong once again. You can even regrow carrot tops, though not the carrots themselves, in a glass of water. Visit gardeningknowhow.com (gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/grow-carrot-tops.htm) for details.