Disgusted and inspired by the devastating percentage of wasted food in North America, Cinda Chavich embarked on a recipe book to educate about shopping, cooking and eating with zero waste.
She attended a conference in San Francisco last year and was stunned to hear a scientist explain food waste.
“It was one of those shocking things,” says the Oak Bay resident. “We waste 40 per cent of the food we buy in North America,” she says, noting if it were a country, food waste would be the third largest CO2 producer on Earth. She likens it to leaving the grocery store with three bags of food and dropping one in the parking lot.
“I came racing home and decided I needed to write a good magazine story, because that’s what I do,” says Chavich, a food writer for nearly three decades and a full-time journalist longer than that.
“I swore I would not write another book … but this is such an important topic. It’s a really great thing to get people talking.”
Chavich already had a half dozen books under her belt in a bid to “get people to cook, shop locally, support local farmers, to get healthier food in their mouths.
“It’s a huge waste, not only ethically – this is food people could be eating – (but also) it’s an environmental issue and it’s an economical issue. We’re wasting $31 billion worth of food in Canada every year. It’s a huge waste of money and a huge waste of resources,” she says.
“What better way to get people engaged in cooking? A lot of people are concerned about the environment and global warming and you can effect change by cooking one or two meals at home.”
In rapid motion, utilizing her well-honed skills and connections, she launched The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook in record time. The idea came in March, the book launched in August.
“It’s an ‘A’ to ‘Z’ of everything you might have in your fridge,” she says.
It features everything from apples to zucchini and outlines for example how to buy, store and use apples – even past their prime.
Then there’s a “weekly feast” section, featuring a full salmon or turkey – and what to do with the leftovers.
“I”m trying to encourage people to just make little changes,” she says. “I cull through my crisper every day or every other day. I have a clear bin in the middle of the fridge.”
During the cull, she fills it with those items getting “dodgy.”
“I try to create a recipe with what I have. I call it cooking backwards,” she says, likening it to the popular television show Chopped, where chefs get a basket of ingredients and must make a meal. “It’s quite freeing and creative, instead of getting a recipe, going and getting all the ingredients. If you have a few ‘mother’ recipes you can upcycle anything,” she says.
The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook features more than 140 recipes organized by ingredient and shares countless ideas for using everything up and is available at local book stores and online. Chavich will sign copies of her book at the Root Cellar, 1286 McKenzie Ave. in Saanich, on Nov. 28 from noon to 3 p.m.