Can There Be Zero Food Waste?

– Claire Mackman

According to the USDA, every year one third of all food produced throughout the world is wasted. This is approximately 1.3 billion tons and is worth around $680 billion. In the U.S. alone, 30-40% of edible food goes to waste. These numbers are exceptional and in reality are unacceptable. Efforts throughout the culinary community have now been made towards reducing these numbers and to lessen the amount of food wasted.

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Source: Sandwich Me

A restaurant in Chicago, Sandwich Me has made significant attempts to reduce their food wasted throughout the years. Notably, the restaurant has not had to take out the trash in over two years! This “zero waste” restaurant functions through reducing, reusing and recycling food waste. Sandwich Me practices efficiency by avoiding the production of food waste and repurposing the waste the restaurant does produce. This includes using leftovers such as the veggies from the service before for a veggie burger the next day, or donating food scraps to nearby farmers to use for chickens. In fact, the majority of the trash comes from customers carrying in their own trash. Sandwich Me continues to reduce food waste and hopes to inspire other restaurants to do the same.

Even five star restaurants have joined the zero food waste movement in their food productions. Chef Dan Barber, owner of Blue Hill made culinary history in his 19-day zero waste food establishment. This entailed Barber incorporating previously discarded ingredients into a 5-star dining experience. This monumental moment attracted mass attention and caused crowds of people to wait in line for hours to taste these “leftover” creations.

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Source: Blue Hill

To continue to diminish food waste, an app was recently created to work with restaurants to allow users to buy discounted food after closing. These “leftovers” aren’t the food on previous customers’ plate, but instead the perfectly food good that would’ve been thrown out at the end of the night. This unsold food becomes inventory for the app and provides customers with a low cost meal. The meals range from as low as $2.60 to a maximum of $5. I don’t know about you, but on a college student budget that doesn’t sound too bad! The Too Good To Go app unfortunately has only launched in the U.K. but will likely spread to other areas including the United States in the near future.

Food waste is a major problem around the world that desperately needs to be addressed. Society has finally started to make initiatives to reduce these disturbing food counts and make a change. The United States Department of Agriculture has set a waste reduction goal to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030.Through the collaboration of restaurants and consumers; food waste can be easily reduced. This will service society in more ways than one in its abilities to save food, save money and save the environment.

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