i just got back from a screening of ‘just eat it: a food waste story’ and i’m all energized. we’ll get to the fudgy mint chocolate energy balls in a minute (and, of course, you can always skip straight there), but i feel compelled to share a little bit about what i learned and especially the resources that are available in case you want to learn more too.
i think when people hear “food waste”, they immediately think of the bits left on the plate when they’re done eating. i know that’s one of the first things i think of. and that’s definitely part of it. the film includes a pig farmer in las vegas who uses scraps from the buffets at the casinos on the strip to feed his herd of 2,500 pigs (all those pigs only manage to chow down on 8% of the food scraps generated. and since the documentary was filmed, the farmer has sold his 150+ acre land to a real estate developer who is going to build houses.).
but scraps left on plates are not nearly all of it. the documentary shows a huge dumpster out behind a grocery store that is chock a block full of little hummus containers with a date 3 weeks out (the film also touches on all of the confusion surrounding dates on food packages).
it takes us out to a celery field where a farmer shows how his crew chops the top half of the celery off, then pulls off all the outer stalks, then trims off the bottom, before finally shoving what’s left – about 1/3 of the original plant – into a plastic bag for a grocery store. the camera pans out to show a field just absolutely covered in food that will never be eaten (the edible celery tops and stalks that were removed).
the filmmakers talk with a farmer who grows peaches, nectarines, and i think plums who says that he routinely discards – throws in the trash – 70% of what is picked because the grocery stores won’t take it (for cosmetic reasons).
unlike me, the film does a really good job not getting all indignant and sanctimonious about this waste. the film’s website has a trailer and screening information, if you want to see all of this for yourself.
if you’re more, “alright already, what can we DO about it?”, savethefood.com is going to be your jam. basically, this website is what my inner 1940s housewife would do if she had badass website-making skills and a bunch of savvy partners. i haven’t clicked every link on the site *yet*, but you can bet i’m going to just as soon as it’s not 23 minutes before i’m supposed to get ready for bed with about 90 minutes of work ahead of me.
one of the awesome things i found in my quick perusal of this awesome resource is recipes organized by the ingredient they use up. for example, this tandoori marinade that uses up plain yogurt looks pretty delicious (and easy). and the on-its-way-out cilantro in my fridge is about to become cilantro stem pesto to go on grilled chicken.
the site also has tips for how and where to store ingredients so they last longer. (spoiler alert: store nearly everything except eggs in the freezer. our basement freezer is crammed full of different types of rice, a million kinds of flour, hoards of nuts, butter, and a few balls of chocolate chip cookie dough that my husband obviously doesn’t know about or they’d be gone.)
of course, this is hardly the only resource out there. there are all sorts of ways to learn more and get involved, whether it’s in your own kitchen or out in a field gleaning. in the new england area, the kendall foundation is focused on creating ‘a resilient and healthy food system in new england’ and they have a resources page with links to learn more (including a link to an article about the ‘world’s first supermarket selling only expired food‘, which is in denmark, of course <3 ). and that’s just one example that i’m familiar with. all of that is to say, there are lots of resources, at both the national and state level. google food waste and your state and see what you find!
ok, this is getting long and we haven’t even touched on the fudgy mint chocolate energy balls. but if you have even just 2 minutes and a modicum of interest, check out the savethefood.com website. it’s really well done and you can learn how many shower minutes of water it takes to produce 1 pound of tomatoes (5 shower minutes of water) or 1 pound of beef (hint: waaaaay more than 5). as i said to my husband earlier while excitedly clicking around, this website is my spirit animal.
alright, fudgy mint chocolate energy balls in 60 seconds or less: they are delicious. they are easy. they use up those cashews you have leftover from making creamy garlic sauce for broccoli white pizza! they are a perfect late night/walking out the door/no time for breakfast/walked in the door hangry snack. or healthy dessert. whatever you make them for, they won’t go to waste, i can tell you that much.
- 113 g. (1 cup / 4 oz.) raw cashews
- 21 – 28 g. (1/4 – 1/3 cup / 3/4 – 1 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 medjool dates, pitted and halved
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- soak the dates in warm water for 10 minutes.
- while the dates are soaking, put the cashews in a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and process them until they are finely chopped. they won’t really get any more finely chopped once the other ingredients are added so get the pieces as small as you can before any cashew butter starts to form along the bottom edge of the food processor bowl (no worries if it does start to turn to butter, just stop processing and continue with the next step).
- add 21 g. / ¼ cup cocoa powder and the peppermint extract to the processor bowl. drain the dates and add them too. process until everything is combined thoroughly. it will likely turn into a big lump of dough. pinch off a small piece and try to roll it into a ball in your palms. if it’s really sticky and totally coating your hands in delicious goop, add another tablespoon of cocoa and process until combined.
- once the mixture is “sticky but workable”, use a half tablespoon (or rounded teaspoon) to form the energy balls (roll them between your palms).
- store the energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (honestly, they’re probably fine past that, mine just never stay around longer than that for me to find out).
these fudgy mint chocolate energy balls are better on day two and the days after, once the mint flavor has a chance to mellow and blend into the other ingredients.
these fudgy mint chocolate energy balls are like dark chocolate – not very sweet. if you would like them to be sweeter, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup to the dough.
adapted from mint chocolate energy bites on sally’s baking addiction.
nutrition facts are per energy ball
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