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Vegetable butchery: How one chef is turning waste into wonder

In Conor Spacey's residence, the compost bin remains almost untouched, a testament to his innovative approach to reducing food waste.

Leftovers, far from being discarded, are ingeniously repurposed; carrot tops transform into a delightful pesto, and chickpea water morphs into a creamy substitute.

Spacey, a renowned chef hailing from Wexford in the picturesque south-east of Ireland, adheres to a vegetarian diet. However, his philosophy of utilising every part of an ingredient is inspired by the meticulous methods of butchers.

This ethos, dubbed "vegetable butchery", sees beetroot skins crafted into chutney, overripe bananas into ketchup, and stale bread reborn as hummus. Every piece of leftover vegetable, kissed with spices, becomes a tantalising kimchi.

For Spacey, resorting to the compost bin is akin to admitting defeat. "While composting is a step above discarding waste, it's a convenience that I believe we can transcend. My aspiration is a world where every morsel is utilised," he shares.

In a world grappling with a cost of living crisis and escalating concerns about sustainability, Spacey's methods resonate profoundly.

A recent study by climate action organisation Wrap unveiled a staggering statistic - UK households are responsible for over 70% of the country’s food waste, equating to a loss of £14bn annually. A separate study by the University of Sheffield highlighted a significant disparity in waste levels between households that cultivate their own produce and those reliant on supermarket purchases.

Researchers Jill Edmondson and Boglarka Zilla Gulyas discovered a remarkable difference; households nurturing their own fruits and vegetables waste a mere 3.4kg annually, in stark contrast to the national average of 68kg.

Edmondson opines, "Those who invest time and effort into growing their food are naturally inclined to value it more and waste less."

Spacey's innovative culinary practices, rooted in sustainability and creativity, offer a tantalising glimpse into a future where food is not just consumed but cherished, and where waste transforms into wonder.


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