To Peel or Not to Peel; that is the Question!


I might not be a great cook myself, but I am without a doubt a big and loyal fan of the TOP CHEF show, particularly the Arab world edition. In one inspiring episode, the challenge was minimizing food waste; the competing chefs were tasked with making pumpkin-based dishes with minimum waste. The results were mind-blowing; a collection of creative and appealing dishes using the peel, the flesh, and even the seeds of pumpkins.

We might not be able to take the parts of food some of us might mistakenly refer to as “waste” or “trash” to the high level the professional chefs achieved. Still, let us explore some facts that might make us change our eating habits to the better.

Not to Peel…

When you dispose of the peels of apples, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, zucchini, and many other produces, you are in fact wasting a considerable percentage of the fruit or the vegetables nutritional value, if not most of it. Peels can be described as storehouses of nutrients such as fibers, vitamins, and minerals, which contribute to your overall health and wellbeing, and fosters the health of your digestive system.

Peels also contain antioxidants that are beneficial for reducing the risk of several diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and some types of cancers. Last but not least, peels can make you feel full for longer periods thanks to the high concentration of fibers. As such, consuming them would serve as an ideal solution for weight management.

Yet, it is always advisable to dispose of the peels in case they prove to be too difficult to wash. Remember that you always need to rinse your fresh produce before consumption to clear any pollutants or chemical residues.

To Peel…but Not to Waste

The peels of some produce are too tough or rough in texture to be edible, and are impossible or unpleasant to eat or digest, regardless of whether cooked or raw. These include the peels of melons, onions, pineapples, mangos, lemon, in addition to some types that are not very common in Egypt such as avocado, passion fruit, papaya, and other tropical fruits.

Some peels cannot be consumed raw, but can be cooked to prepare other recipes. Citrus peels, for examples, can be used to make delicious jams. If you live in the countryside, or in a house with a garden or backyard, you can use these wastes to operate home-based biogas units, which can turn organic wastes into free clean energy.

Outside households, on the mass-production level, peels and seeds that may prove worthless in some food industries can be invaluable assets to others. For example, they can be used in the production of nutritional food additives, supplements, skincare products, and fragrances, among others.

In our everyday life, personal taste plays a key role in one’s decision to peel or not to peel a produce. However, the world cannot afford food waste anymore, and we all share this responsibility.

Now that we have evaluated the situation in terms of nutritional facts and food preservation, I invite you to try consuming all the edible parts of your food. Maybe it is not too difficult to change our habits for the good of our health, our fellow humans, and our planet.


Cover image by Freepik.


Further Reading

Waste into Energy: Two Birds...One Stone

Food Supply Chains: From Crisis to Opportunity

Agricultural Pesticides: Q&A (2)

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