Combatting College Food Waste

Combatting College Food Waste

Since moving away for college, and having to buy ingredients and cook food on my own, I’ve become very aware of how fast my food sours, spoils or even sprouts. I’ve found that when purchasing produce to make meals for one person, I have a very narrow time limit for how long my food will last me, especially with the unpredictable schedule that comes with being a busy college student.

Watching my food waste away on my counter has been a strong motivator for me to be more conscious about where my food comes from, and what happens to it after I deem it too long gone to eat. When my produce spoils I compost it. When my fruits and vegetables begin to sprout, however, I try my best to save the already growing produce for future use, but mostly as an experiment out of curiosity. While my options for growing my own produce in temporary university housing are minimal, I’ve found entertainment in experimenting with what I have, which involves lots of Google searches, the joy of watching the growth progress, and the occasional moldy sprout or two.

The first image is of a garlic clove in my kitchen, sprouting because it was forgotten about. Last time this happened, I placed a previously sprouting head of garlic in a container with water to try to grow what I can, rather than let an already growing clove go to waste. This process was pure trial and error, although I experienced more error as I quickly realized bulbed produce has different needs than other foods. While I enjoyed attempting to save the garlic, it isn’t the only produce I’ve decided to salvage and experiment with. The third picture is what I have growing now, green onions, although they look in pretty poor shape right now, a russet potato, and an avocado pit which, although will not fruit, will make a fun house plant. I’ve had the best luck with green onions, and although  I’ve found that they grow almost too fast for my typical consumption, I’ve been able to share its bounty with my roommates and friends. 

Within the topic of fresh food and food waste, these pictures depict the ease of growing produce, as long as you have the right environment and materials. Fruits, vegetables and other naturally growing organisms are meant to decompose and grow again, but there are challenges due to living conditions and economic availability. Ultimately, I would like to grow other plants and vegetables from my unused produce, but I just haven’t gotten the materials yet due to the challenge of living in temporary college housing. While my dream garden will have to wait until I’m ready to put my own roots down somewhere, I’m finding enjoyment in learning more about the produce I consume by watching the way it grows on my college kitchen counter. 

Interested in trying to salvage your own produce? Try these tricks!

  • After washing your avocado pit, peel the brown coating off. Wrap it in a damp paper towel, seal it in a ziploc bag, and place in a warm dark area (personally I put mine in the pantry) for about two weeks. After it begins to germinate, place in it water and notice the growth progress every day!
    • Want to know more? Read this: https://brightly.eco/how-grow-avocado-plant-from-pit/
  • After using the greens on your green onions, place the roots in about an inch of water. You can even use some of the greens as it grows!
    • Read this for more methods: https://plantinstructions.com/vegetables/how-to-grow-green-onions-3-ways-to-grow-green-onions/
  • Have dried out, or already sprouting, garlic? Place the bulbs, root part down, in water. Once it begins to sprout, transfer the bulb into a pot to prevent the bulb from molding. You can wait for new bulbs to form, or you can even eat the garlic sprouts!

Watch this for more information: https://youtu.be/wi2tRwTblrA

Post by Rhea Mech

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