by Learning Lead – Elisabeth Huang

This year, the United Nations Environment Programme (United Nations Environment Programme, 2021a) published a Food Waste Index Report that points out that more than 17% of our food is wasted. According to UNEP Programme Manager, James Lomax, food waste contributes up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions around the world (United Nations Environment Programme, 2021b).

Regrowing of green onions. Photo by Elisbeth Huang.

As an individual who enjoys learning about, trying, and experimenting with healthy food to share with others, I also care deeply about the future of our planet. When it came to deciding what skills to share to combat a climate apocalypse, my love for food and my strong interest in a more sustainable world play a major role to my decision to explore the skills that would allow more people to have physical and economic access to sufficient amounts of nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate food while having the least impact on our environment.

As I let go of parts of food left after cooking into the compost bin, I can’t help but wonder if these bits and pieces that most people refer to as food scraps have other uses. 

As I reminisce back to the immense joy that I felt when I saw my green onions grow from its leftovers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, I was excited to explore the idea of what other magical food scraps can transform into edibles. During the pandemic, I moved to a lovely home with a backyard so I had more space to explore more. So why not try to experiment with more food scraps?

Collecting tomato seeds. Photo by Elisabeth Huang.

Aside from lowering our greenhouse gas emissions, starting a garden using food scraps also brings about other benefits from the chance to consume delicious, fresh, local, and organic food. It also serves as an economical hobby that will bring physical and mental health benefits while helping pollinators.

After a bit of research online on which food scraps that I would like to begin growing from, I identified a few food scrap candidates that I wanted to give it a go. In this blog, I will be sharing some lessons I learned while growing the following:

  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beans

Each the growth of each food scrap will be featured in its own blog. Since starting this project in early May 2021, I have learned that growing edibles from food scraps have taught me some life lessons as well. For the first blog of the series, in addition to introducing one of the skills that I will be sharing, I would like to dedicate it to express my gratitude. One of the most important lessons that this project has taught me is that the beginning of my journey this year with the growth of food scraps was only possible because of others.

Danielle Moore – I am thrilled to participate in your inspiring Cautious Optimist Project. I look forward to being a part of this learning exchange community so we can all develop the skills to survive and combat a climate apocalypse together. Many thanks Danielle for launching this multimedia project to instill hope in each and every one of us.

Germinating plants in cups. Photos by Elisabeth Huang.

Amanda Wong and the Waterlution community – My sincere thanks to Amanda Wong and the Waterlution team for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Danielle’s inspirational vision to live “life as a learning lab”. When I attended the first Learning Lead meeting, the opportunity to meet and learn about the exciting skills that incredibly talented Learning Leads across Canada were planning to share with others, it rejuvenated a sense of motivation. Furthermore, I truly appreciate all the vlogging and blogging resources and training that the Waterlution team put together to equip us with the skills to produce compelling blogs and vlogs. Many thanks!

Online community – While browsing online to decide which food scraps can be easily grown within a few months with a start date of May 2021, I found an abundance of resources online from people across the world who kindly and generously share their knowledge and expertise on how to grow food from food scraps. Their helpful and practical advice were greatly appreciated.

Sprouting plants. Photo by Elisabeth Huang.

My mom – Like my late grandma who worked diligently in the garden, my mom also enjoyed gardening. She is definitely more experienced than I am when it comes to growing edibles. When I first told her about this project, she kindly shared her garden with me as she generously made a space for me to grow my food scraps. She also shared her wisdom of growing edibles with me as well as helping me water my plants when she watered hers. I thoroughly enjoy learning from her.

With sincere gratitude, 

-Lis H.


United Nations Environment Programme . (2021a). UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021.

United Nations Environment Programme . (2021b). Food systems hold key to ending world hunger. United Nations Environment Programme.