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More than a third of us ARE throwing away valuable nutrition

The humble broccoli, a Kiwi family favourite, is currently being thrown away in staggering amounts. Each year, more than 282 tonnes, or the equivalent of a blue whale of stems, are being added to our household landfill waste.

Our CEO, Richard Burke, says that this is a staggering amount of waste and a huge waste of money.

“It might come as a surprise, but broccoli stalks are edible and they taste great.  A third of us (37 percent) are throwing them away! It’s such a waste,” he says.

Food scraps make up almost half the weight of the average Auckland household’s rubbish. Recently, new figures came out that indicate New Zealander’s throw out more than $3 billion worth of food each year – more than $1500 per household per year.

Richard says we’re all talking about the increase in the cost of living. If we make a few simple changes, like buying in season or not throwing away edible parts of our veggies, we’ll get better value out of our fresh produce. 

“Eating every part of the vegetable that you’ve bought makes financial sense. Why not try maximising every inch of this nutrition powerhouse to make meals go further. It tastes great, adds texture to your meal, plus, you’ll also be helping the environment,” he says.

5+ A Day Trustee and Principal Scientist and Team Leader at Plant and Food Research, Dr Carolyn Lister says broccoli stems are just as important as the head, or floret of the plant.

“Broccoli stems and florets are an excellent source of nutrition, they’re an important part of a healthy diet to support your wellbeing in the winter months,” she says.

“The stems and the florets provide valuable nutrients such as vitamin C, which supports immunity, and folate which helps the body form red blood cells, plus they’re a great source of dietary fibre which keeps you feeling full for longer.” 

Broccoli stems can be added to your favourite recipe along with the florets, or you can turn them into a healthy rice substitute using a food processor. The 5+ A Day Charitable Trust suggests slicing the stems finely and steaming them along with florets. Combine them with cranberries, almonds and a honey mustard dressing for a delicious and nutritious warm winter salad.

For recipe ideas to use broccoli stems and other vegetable and fruit peels and stalks, the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust website has a database with plenty of delicious options. You’ll also find a range of sustainability facts and tips on the site including advice on how to store your fresh produce to reduce waste:

Listen to Richard Burke’s interview on The Mike Hosking Breakfast