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Are Nose-to-Tail and Root-to-Stem Cooking Considered Upcycled Food?

Are Nose-to-Tail and Root-to-Stem Cooking Considered Upcycled Food?

What is “Nose-to-Tail?”

Nose-to-tail cooking entails getting maximal use out of all parts of the animal and letting very little, if any, parts go to waste. This form of cooking is far more sustainable than traditional industrial animal consumption, and resembles upcycled food values in a lot of ways. With nose-to-tail cooking, we can maximize existing resources to yield the most food.

The term “nose-to-tail” was not coined until 2004, but has existed since the hunter-gatherer era. When we hunted and gathered, nose-to-tail cooking was not a buzzy term – it was just how we ate. With all of the energy that went into foraging and hunting food, we could not let any of the animal assets go unused. 

The standard American diet is limited on what it will make use of in the kitchen. For example, chicken breasts and thighs are in common circulation within our kitchens, but what about chicken feet? Salmon collar? Bovine organ meat? Why have we deemed some parts of the animal highly desirable, but others we turn away with disdain?

Going beyond lean meats can also benefit our health – organ meat has lots of B vitamins, choline, glycine and iron, while bone and bone marrow provide vitamins A, E, B12, and iron. Even better, using these under-utilized cuts of meat are often cheaper!

One of the easiest ways of getting into nose-to-tail eating is through tinned fish – such as sardines or anchovies. 

What about “Root-to-Stem?”

Root-to-stem cooking is remarkably similar to nose-to-tail – its main difference being that it refers to maximizing value from the plant kingdom instead of animal agriculture, which is generally more sustainable. It entails taking typically overlooked bits like peels, roots, and stems and putting them to use in delicious recipes. 

For example, if you’re peeling carrots – rather than throwing them away (or even composting them) you can make this delicious Zero-Waste Carrot Peel Soup. Anything that involves food scraps probably has a delicious recipe that can be made using the bits of food that would have otherwise been wasted.

Finding ways to offset food waste and minimize our impact on the environment are a big passion of ours here at the ReGrained Upcycled Food Lab. Let us know how you employ these tactics in your own kitchens!
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