Food Waste

So, I know that we normally don’t do this, but I need to talk about a special called The Big Waste, I just watched from Food Network. The show pits chefs Anne Burrel and Alex Guarnaschelli against Bobby Flay and Michael Simon in a competition to create the best three-course banquet meal for 100 guests. The catch is they need to use only food that has been discarded. Most of the special shows the four chefs visiting local grocers, farms, and restaurants to see what food they can salvage. The result was alarming!

I was a bit horrified to see how much perfectly edible food is thrown away on a daily basis, mainly because American Consumers have ridiculous standards. At one location, a whole chicken was ready to be thrown in the garbage because a wing was broken. There was nothing wrong with the actual chicken, but because it wasn’t pretty, they knew it wouldn’t sell.

This got me thinking about Milwaukee. I was not naive enough to think we are exempt from this problem. I was happy, if not a little surprised, to see that there are efforts to reduce and reuse the food waste produced in Wisconsin. I read an interesting article about garbage disposals, and how ground up food waste is turned into energy and used to clean our water. You can read the article here.

I also read about Growing Power, which uses food waste as compost and another article about a proposal by the Potawatomi tribe to use food waste to power their casino. You can read that article here.

So, back to The Big Waste. I won’t tell you who wins at the end, but I will say this is worth watching. It really got me thinking. I wonder what I can do to reduce food waste, and, honestly, how to obtain some of it. I’m still not sure how I feel about dumpster diving, which they did at one point in the show, but I’m intruigued by the quality of the food they found. It’s also ridiculous that so much food goes to waste when so many are hungry.

Food Network is airing their special again on January 14th at 3:00 (central time) and January 15th at 4:00 (central time). I recommend you watch it.

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2 Responses to Food Waste

  1. Mandi says:

    I used to hate fresh tomatoes. Then I moved to a small town in Eastern Europe and bought some at the local grocer. The burst of flavor was surprising! I was used to produce from the U.S. that’s been genetically modified and cross bred to be larger, and then grown with the use of pesticides resulting in a big beautiful looking piece of fruit with no flavor.

    I also saw, for the first time, food that was bruised and slightly bug bitten. It didn’t look great, but whatever didn’t sell in my town (approx. pop. 60,000) was boxed up and sent for another run in a smaller village. It was still good, there just comes a point in a vegetable’s life when you need to cut off the bruised part first.

    I think consumers in the U.S. are starting to become more knowledgeable about our food system…especially with the help of shows like this. That knowledge, in part, is what’s sparking the organics and Farmer’s market industries. Food is cheaper (in some cases), tastier, and free of pesticides, antibiotics, etc. The chickens and turkeys may look smaller, and the produce may be a bit bruised and dirty, but c’mon, didn’t your mother ever tell you that you can’t judge a book by its cover?

  2. Nicole says:

    Per your recommendation, we recorded this show and we’re watching it now. It’s fascinating and sad. It’s absolutely amazing how much food this country wastes. Two years ago, we did a CSA through Tipi Produce, and a lot of produce we got was the stuff they wouldn’t have been able to sell to stores, but that was perfectly fine. It’s just amazing how much stuff everyday consumers won’t buy. Thanks for the recommendation!

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