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The Accidental Locavore: Sustainability Starts at Home

By Anne Maxfield  on Jan 12, 2012 

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If you’re passionate about sustainability, how about taking the first step…in your kitchen? Around Thanksgiving, the Accidental Locavore read an interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, Thanksgiving Thrift: the Holiday as a Model for Sustainable Cooking. The focus of the piece was to emphasize that the one thing we look forward to the most during the holiday season, are the leftovers.

It made me think (isn't that what op-Ed pieces are supposed to do?), about how much food we all waste. Forget for a minute, about nose-to-tail eating. Why don't we resolve for 2012, to embrace leftovers and eat all the food we buy? As Americans, we waste 40 percent of all the food we purchase. From an economic, as well as a sustainable/green perspective, if you want to make an impact on green issues, why not start in your kitchen?

The Locavore is lucky, both my husband and I will happily eat leftovers, knowing that many foods, especially those cooked slowly, taste even better the next day, when the flavors have had time to develop. If your family is fussy about meal re-runs, then you need to get clever. When you're buying food, think about how you can transform your purchases into soups, make sauces for pasta, create homemade salads, explore new variations of shepherd’s pie, frittatas, etc.

As I was writing this, the Times posted a great column about turning leftover cooked meat into meatballs, an idea I can’t wait to try! Even if you only have a few morsels left, toss them on top of a pizza or melt them in a quesadilla. And don't be limited by lunch or dinner; think breakfast, too. Last summer, my husband took some French potato salad and sautéed it up into the most delicious home fries. That with an omelet and some local bacon, was a great weekend breakfast!
Now, I almost always have a roast chicken on hand. Besides using it for dinner, the meat can be shredded and tossed in salads for lunch or added to noodle soup for extra protein and flavor. Even leftover pulled pork can turn 'plain' mac & cheese into something fabulous!

So, make this the year where you do more with your leftovers! Play, explore, enjoy and let us know what you come up with.

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