Jo Taranto is a Sydney based expert contributor on the topics of waste, sustainability and climate change. She grew up in Tenterfield NSW and was the 6th generation to have lived on her family farm. As a child, Jo lived through the extreme drought of the 1990s and saw the devastation and toll it took on her family and community.
In 2018 she co-founded social enterprise consultancy, Good for the Hood with a mission to create more connected and sustainable communities all over Australia. Through her efforts, she has been nominated for Citizen of the year in her own community of Ryde and won several awards including Volunteer Group of the year for her local campaigns.
When she’s not filming for the new upcoming Channel 10 TV series Planet Shapers, Jo regularly appears at conferences and online events sharing her knowledge on how to do good for the hood.
Food waste is no doubt one of the topics that Jo often covers for the community. For Who Does the Dishes, Jo shares what she likes to make with leftover ingredients she has in the fridge and pantry. Being creative is the key!
“This poke bowl is fresh, light and has a low environmental impact. I like to buy local ingredients where I can and I get my fruit and vegetables from Box Divvy who works directly with farmers in the Greater Sydney Basin. I don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals and I just want things that taste good and give me the energy to get through the day. I also like any dish where I can use up what’s in the fridge and a dish like this is perfect. You can really add any vegetable you like and combine with nuts, grains, legumes. Plus if some of the veges are looking a little limp, you can do a quick pickle in some vinegar and sugar and add them as a delicious side. This dish is a perfect lunch or dinner and can be substituted with a meat or fish instead of the tofu. I also like using Tempeh, eggplant or chickpeas instead of the tofu.”
Did you know what and how we eat has an impact to the environment? From the moment food is produced, transported and distributed, it has already contributed to climate change by the amount of energy it uses. According to the Carbon Footprint of Food Supply Chain, animal based food tends to have higher carbon footprint than plant based food. Furthermore when food ends up in landfill, it decomposes anaerobically and releases greenhouse gas called methane that’s more potent than carbon dioxide. Worldwide, about 8% of greenhouse gas emission come from food waste in landfills. In Australia, food waste accounts for approximately 3% of annual greenhouse gas emission.
Often we have food that’s neglected in the back of the fridge or we just don’t know what to do with tired looking vegetables. Having a useful strategy to manage food storage will not just save us time and money but is also good for the environment because we’ll end up using them up instead of throwing them in the bin. Getting creative with your leftovers and having a compost bin for all your organic waste are also great ways to avoid food ending up in landfills.
“I believe that everyone has a role to play in making their community or organisation a positive force for good.” – Jo Taranto
Jo’s food waste tip
"I like creating dishes where I can use up what's in the fridge!"
Tofu Poke Bowl with Tahini Dressing
Prep time: | Cook time: | Serves 2
- 1 cup brown rice (soak for at least 2 hours)
- 1. 5 cups water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Firm tofu (about 150-200gm per serve) cut into 3cm strips
- 1-2 tbs rice or plain flour
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegetable/olive oil for shallow frying
- Vegetables and sides
- 4 radishes finely sliced
- 1 cucumber diced
- 1 avocado diced
- 1/2 small red onion finely sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced carrot
- A handful of snow pea sprouts or any type of sprouts
- Optional garnishes
- A slice of lemon, a rice paper crackers (1 rice paper wrapper placed in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds), shredded yaki nori (sushi seaweed) Wasabi Peas, pepitas, roasted cashews, and sesame seeds as desired
- Mint or coriander
- Sliced chilli
- Tahini dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini (you can also use any nut butter)
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp miso paste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp of vinegar (rice is fine but you can use whatever is in the pantry)
- 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp water
- Sriracha sauce (optional)
- Cook the soaked brown rice either in your rice cooker or a pot. Once cooked, set aside to cool down.
- Dust tofu pieces in flour and lightly fry in about 1cm of cooking oil.
- Cook for 1 minute on each side (do in batches if required).
- Chop and dice all vegetables and sides.
- Make dressing by blending all the items together. Add just a bit more water if need to.
- Place cooked rice at bottom of a large bowl.
- Layer toppings in sections on top of the rice
- Drizzle with dressing and add sriracha sauce as desired.
- Only prepare what you think you can eat and keep all leftover items in separate containers for another meal. This is a dish you can have a few times a week and not get bored!