School comp to tackle food wastage

Head judge Al Brown in the kitchen with some kids. Supplied photo.

Beetroot leaves, pumpkin skin, broccoli stalks and orange peel seldom feature in popular recipes, however these will take centre stage as part of culinary creations cooked in the nationwide Root to Tip Competition. 

School pupils around New Zealand are challenged to create a vegetable-based meal from ‘root to tip’, using as much of the fruit or vegetable as possible, and leaving little or no waste.

Children must source their produce locally from family, community or school gardens, and turn it into a creative, delicious two-course meal, which will be judged by an expert panel for taste and the amount of food wasted.

Head judge Al Brown says it’s important that people of all ages understand where their food comes from, and how to make the most of available ingredients and reduce food wastage.

“Root to Tip gives children an opportunity to learn important skills they can take into adulthood, from growing, cultivating and cooking food to learning about how to stretch ingredients further.

“Giving them the chance to get creative and dream up a dish that uses every part of a fruit or vegetable and seeing how proud they are of the finished product is just brilliant.”

Building on the success of last year’s Root to Tip competition based in Canterbury, with the help of RaboDirect, Garden to Table has taken the competition to all primary schools nationwide, with entries now open for year five and six pupils to enter in teams of two.

Head of RaboDirect Hamish McKegg says Root to Tip gives children the skills to tackle an important issue in New Zealand in an inspiring and fun way.

“We recently conducted research that found that Kiwis waste an estimated $1071 of food per household every year. Root to Tip teaches children new habits to help tackle an issue we face as a country and globally, and we’re really excited to be a part of this year’s competition.”

Garden to Table executive officer Linda Taylor says the Root to Tip competition aims to change the way children approach food and food wastage.

“Not only do children learn vital day-to-day skills, but they get to go home and share their knowledge with their families and friends. We know that by inspiring kids to grow and cook good food and reduce food wastage we also reach a wider group of Kiwis.”

Last year’s competition-winners were Otis Swallow and Noah Cobby from Diamond Harbour School. Their winning dish consisted of an entrée of cooked roasted baby carrots with carrot top, walnut and parsley pesto, and a potato and basil pizza with pumpkin base served with fresh ricotta cheese and ground pumpkin seeds for the main.

This year’s recipe entries will be judged, and regional heats will be held in 12 centres around the country during June. The national final will be held in early August in Wellington where the Root to Tip competition winners will be announced. The winning pupils will each receive a $1000 NoticeSaver account with RaboDirect, plus one-year free membership to the Garden to Table programme for their school and a range of other kitchen goodies.

Entries to the Root to Tip Competition close on Friday June 1. All entry details can be found at

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