With her 2010 book Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, author Shannon Hayes put forth a manifesto for a feminist, ecologically conscious way of living that rejected the dichotomy between home and work. Now, in her new book Long Way on a Little: An Earth Lover’s Companion for Enjoying Meat, Pinching Pennies and Living Deliciously, readers will be let in on Hayes’ approach to cooking, eating, and raising meat on her New York state-based Sap Bush Hollow Farm.

We spoke with Hayes recently about food waste, her old-fashioned approach to eating all parts of the animals, and how she believes it can solve a core dilemma for locavores.

Q. Can you say a little about your motivation to write Long Way on a Little? It sounds like your experience with food waste had a lot to do with it.

A. I actually began Long Way on a Little while I was still writing Radical Homemakers. I was grappling with the same question: How are Americans supposed to have a sustainable, locally centered, nutritious diet on a low to moderate income? Answering that question led me down the path toward writing Radical Homemakers. At the same time, I needed to ask that question of my own family’s business — we produce grass-fed meat for a living. Did the sustainable, local diet necessarily mean that our product was only to be considered an occasional luxury, or did it play a more central role in reviving our community’s nutrition? If Americans continue to be wasteful of their food (tossing out scraps, letting things rot in the fridge, ignoring 20 to 30 percent of every grass-fed animal that is processed for the local food markets), then the answer to my question would have to be that meat might have to remain a luxury.  But then, upon reexamining that waste — the bones, the fat, the scraps — I realized that it could play a very central, nutritious role. Indeed, I would argue that by committing to more thorough utilization of every animal, we can increase the nutrient density of all our food, dramatically reduce our consumption, and become far more sustainable.

Q. How does the structure of the book and approach to the recipes reinforce this idea of “going a long way on a little”? What role does quantity play?

A. The very first chapter of recipes is titled “Bones and Fat.” The reason is because these two ingredients, which comprise the largest portion of animal waste that I see in our meat cutting room [at the Sap Bush Hollow Farm store], are the foundational ingredients for much of the book. Rather than relying on canned broth or wines for sauces and braises, the recipes call for real broth. Rather than relying on olive oil or butter for frying or baking, the recipes call for lard or tallow.