When it comes to food in America, two things are clear: we love it and we love to waste it. Each year, American families waste an average of 25% of the food that they buy. That includes the carrot tops, bread ends, and other scraps not used while cooking, and the leftovers that go bad in the fridge before they get eaten. And this number does not even account for the tens of thousands of pounds of food thrown away each year by restaurants and other food service companies.
Now, two very different entities – a chef and a city government – are trying to change that. In Seattle, a new composting law slaps households that do not adequately compost their leftover food with a fine and red tag on their garbage cans. Meanwhile, in New York City, the innovative chef, Dan Barber, (of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns), is working on a high profile, temporary pop up restaurant where every dish will be made from leftovers – stems, peels, bones, and the like. The clever name for the pop up? WastED.
The New York Times reported about both of these compelling stories. Check out the excerpts below and read the whole articles at their website.
Starve a Landfill
By: Kim Severson
“SEATTLE — The nation’s first citywide composting program based largely on shame began here in January. City sanitation workers who find garbage cans filled with aging lettuce, leftover pizza or even the box it came in are slapping on bright red tags to inform the offending household (and, presumably, the whole neighborhood) that the city’s new composting law has been violated.
San Francisco may have been the first city to make its citizens compost food, but Seattle is the first to punish people with a fine if they don’t. In a country that loses about 31 percent of its food to waste, policies like Seattle’s are driven by environmental, social and economic pressure.
But mandated composting reflects a deeper shift in the mood of the nation’s cooks, one in which wasting food is unfashionable. Running an efficient kitchen — where bruised fruit is blended into smoothies, carrot tops are pulsed into pesto, and a juicy pork shoulder can move seamlessly from Sunday supper to Monday’s carnitas to a rich pot of broth for the freezer — is becoming as satisfying as the food itself.” Read more.
Chef Lineup Announced for Dan Barber’s Food Waste Pop-Up, Wasted
By: Florence Fabricant
“A high-profile experiment in wasting nothing will start on March 13 at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant in Greenwich Village. That’s when the restaurant will turn into a pop-up called wastED, to run through the end of the month, with a menu of dishes devised from leftovers like stems, peelings, rinds and bones, by a roster of guest chefs who will change each evening.” Read more.