Can you help the Earth by eating your leftovers? Kids say yes | Articles

Professional chef shares easy dessert recipe


  • Food waste is a common problem in many households.

  • Whether you throw food out or buy more than you can eat, it harms our Earth.

  • Two Canadian kids took a food waste challenge in March through Earth Rangers.

  • They tried cooking leftovers and composting. ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

Have you ever thrown away your food?

Whether it’s a moldy piece of bread or an entire dinner’s worth of leftovers, every piece of food we buy and eat has a big impact on the environment.

CBC Kids News spoke to two Canadian kids who took on a unique challenge in March through the environmental organization Earth Rangers.

They teamed up with their families to try new things like freezing leftovers and composting vegetable scraps.

In the end, they met their goal to reduce their daily food waste and they learned something along the way!

Why 2 Canadians kids took on the challenge

Avalyn Smith, 11, from Edmonton, Alberta, and Asha Maloney, 9, from Ottawa, Ontario, are two Earth Rangers who participated in the challenge and tracked their progress online.

They’ve been Earth Rangers for more than three years and care deeply about the environment.

“I found the challenge quite fun and it got me thinking about what I eat,” said Avalyn in an interview with CBC Kids News.

Avalyn peels bruised apples from her local farmers' market.

Avalyn peels bruised apples from her local farmers’ market. Using the principle of ‘thinking before tossing,’ she uses apples to make a dessert that can be eaten right away. The peels and cores from the apples are then composted in the silver bin. (Image submitted by Amy Smith)

In March, she started freezing leftover food instead of throwing it out and cooking new recipes to save the fruits and vegetables in her fridge that were going bad.

“It’s just nice to know that instead of throwing something away and it going into a landfill, you can turn it into something else,” said Avalyn.

Meanwhile, Asha got her brothers and parents involved in looking at the expiry dates of items in their fridge and cupboards, so they could eat the food that was about to go bad first.

She said that learning new habits from the challenge was easy and that other kids should take food waste seriously.

Asha poses with her new Earth Rangers card.

Asha poses with her new Earth Rangers card, which she got for completing the food waste challenge in March. (Image submitted by Charlotte Maloney)

“Wasting food is bad for the environment because you’re wasting a ton of resources, which helps climate change keep going,” said Asha.

“All the greenhouse gases that go into [making something]all those people’s hard work, it just ends up in the trash.”

Challenge pays off

Avalyn and Asha were just two of the 9,000 kids who participated in the challenge.

In total, Earth Rangers said more than 19,000 plates of food were prevented from going to waste.

They also stopped scraps of food from going to a landfill by composting 12,000 times.

Why does this matter?

More than half of the food made in Canada gets wasted every year.

That’s according to a Canadian food waste charity called Second Harvest.

60 per cent of the food made in Canada gets lost and wasted per year.  That equals 35.5 million tonnes of food.  32 per cent of it is actually edible and could be given to people in our communities.  This lost and wasted food is worth $49.46 BILLION in Canada alone.  Source: Second Harvest

How kids can help

While the Earth Rangers challenge may be over, there are lots of ways to practice food-saving measures at home.

Kids can try freezing their leftovers for later or using scraps of vegetables and leftover chicken bones to make their own soup stocks.

Composting items like eggshells and coffee grinds instead of throwing them in the trash is also an option.

Many municipalities in Canada have composting pick-up, just like recycling, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Jagger Gordon, a chef from Toronto, Ontario, has a lot of experience with reducing food waste.

He created an app called Feed It Forward that helps connect people who have food to give away with volunteers who distribute it to people in need.

  A man holds a box of vegetables in front of a white van that says “Feed It Forward: Food Rescue.”

Chef Jagger Gordon stands with a box of rescued food in front of his Food Rescue truck in Toronto, Ontario. (Image submitted by Jagger Gordon)

Gordon said the first step to reduce food waste is to get creative in the kitchen.

“See what’s being thrown in the garbage and think of creative ways that you could use it in a soup, stew, chili or a drink,” said Gordon.

Four kids stand in a kitchen.  The text reads: All Taste, No Waste!  The Earth Rangers Cookbook.

As part of the March challenge, Earth Rangers created the All Taste, No Waste! cookbook in partnership with Maple Leaf Foods chef Sam Lazuric. It features easy recipes for kids to use up leftovers and is available on the Earth Rangers website. (Image submitted by Earth Rangers)

“Just because a piece of fruit or vegetable is imperfect doesn’t mean it’s useless. Just cut off the bad bits and chop it up.”

Gordon encourages kids to challenge their parents and ask them, “What are we doing with our food?”

Your Brown Rescued Bananas Cake

Recipe by Chef Jagger Gordon for CBC Kids News

Serves 6 to 8 people


  • 3 or 4 of your ripest, rotting bananas, peeled.

  • ¼ cup plus two tablespoons of a healthy oil, like coconut oil (include more to grease the pan.)

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

  • 4 tablespoons of white or brown sugar.

  • A sprinkle of salt.

  • 3 to 5 tablespoons of maple syrup.

  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon (optional.)

  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

  • A splash of coconut milk or nut milk to add extra moisture if the batter appears dry.

  • ¼ cup of chopped hazelnuts or walnuts (your choice.)

  • If you want to experiment, you can also add a handful of chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or a teaspoon of ground green cardamom to the mix!


  1. Preheat your oven to 365 degrees.

  2. While the oven is heating up, take your peeled bananas and mash them with a fork. Mix well with oil and brown sugar.

  3. Add flour and cinnamon to the mix and combine well with a spatula or a wooden spoon. You can also add experimental ingredients like peanut butter, spices, nuts or chocolate chips to taste.

  4. Take a loaf pan or eight-inch baking dish and grease the pan with some leftover cooking oil on a paper towel. Dump your batter into the pan and place into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

  5. After 20 minutes, take a look at the dish. You can cover the top with foil if it is browning on the surface.

  6. Bake for another 20 minutes or until a skewer or fork inserted into the banana bread comes out clean. Allow it to cool for 30 minutes before slicing into it.

  7. Your rescued banana creations can be served hot or cold. It can also be kept for three or five days in a sealed container.

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