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Monday
Jan162012

The Big Waste

The other night on Food TV I watched a cooking contest between Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli against Bobby Flay and Michael Symon.  They were challenged to cook a three course meal in 48 hours for 100 people.  What made the challenge unique was that they had to use food that was being thrown away, waste food.  I guess I knew we wasted a lot of food in the US, but I had no idea.  The food they collected was inspected by New York City food inspectors and it all passed without any problems, yet it was still being thrown away.

We followed the two teams as they went first to vendors that supplied their restaurants and asked for the good food they were throwing away that day.  Bobby and Michael first went to the Manhatten Food Exchange.  They found that any food with the slightest blemish was discarded.  They found peas that had blemishes on the pods, but when shelled the peas were perfect.  They found other things like mangos with a tiny bruise, one day old cheese, and one day old short bread, all being thrown away.  The food exchange throws away hundreds of pounds of perfectly good food every day.

Meanwhile, the ladies went to the Ferrara Bakery.  There they were given Prosciutto ends, espresso, chocolate and flour.  The prosciutto ends had too much fat to sell.  The others were excess from recipes that could not be re-mixed with fresh.  A typical day’s waste was about $40 worth of food.

Anne and Alex then went to F. Rozzo & Son, a fish monger.  There they got a half halibut that had been slightly bruised when filleted.  They also got redfish from a cancelled order and oysters from an order that was too large.  F. Rozzo & Sons throws away about 80 pounds of fish every day.

Probably the most interesting person associated with the waste program was "the Freegan".  That’s right, the Freegan.  This seemingly normal guy, with a normal job, gets all of his food free.  Even though he can afford to buy his food, he goes to supermarket dumpsters and collects the waste that is still edible.  He gave Anne swiss chard, quinoa salad, bagels, avocados and much more. And all of that was just from one supermarket.

Probably the worst example of waste was several U-Pick Farms they went to.  In every case they say that 40-50% of their produce and fruit is wasted.  People will pick a tomato, then see another tomato that looks better, riper or larger and just discard the first tomato, or peach, or cabbage, etc.  These U-Pick farms have the largest compost piles imaginable.

America throws away 27 million tons of food every year that is unwanted, rejected or deemed unsuitable for sale.  That is about 200 pounds for every man, woman, and child in the US.   How much do you  waste and what do you think about all this?  Let us hear from you.

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