CHEFS, FARMERS ARE CUTTING DOWN ON FOOD WASTE…..IT’S YOUR TURN!
Restaurateurs are among the most cost conscious about lost revenue due to food waste. Chef Patrick Mulvaney at Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant in midtown Sacramento, in a recent interview with Sacramento Bee’s Cathie Anderson, referred to research being done, involvement of local chefs, and legislation planned to lobby for changes in Washington,D.C. It’s true that in just a few more years there will be more than a billion more people with mouths to feed, but is it a problem of food growth and production, or use and distribution?
How many times has it been found that making better use of what we have solves more issues than new rules, regulation, and money spent studying the problem. In addition to restaurants encouraging growers to sell their fruit too ripe for a grocery store to their restaurant instead, now they want even damaged produce farmers can’t sell to wholesalers. Mulvaney told the Sacramento Bee that if produce is damaged or fruit too ripe, he and other chefs can still use it productively.
ReFED, (Rethinking Food Waste through Economics and Data) a group of more than 30 businesses, foundations, non-profit and government leaders has analyzed how to reduce waste at every level of the food chain. Also in participation with these ethics is the nonprofit Chefs Action Network, who hopes to not only raise awareness of ReFED, but advocate for legislative changes.
Institutions such as hospitals, prisons and schools can also look for ways to make use of farm fresh slightly damaged produce. Grocery stores have begun to market imperfect goods at discounted prices. According to Emeryville-based Imperfect, California accounts for half of the 6 billion pounds of produce discarded annually in the U.S.
Chef are hoping the 2018 Farm Bill will provide tax incentives, liability protection as well as awareness and motivation for farmers to get involved in the food waste coalition.
Meanwhile, what can be done locally is being demonstrated by growers like Ben Hansen and Kevin Nowell at 24 Carrot Farm in Placerville, and many like them, who bundle up farm fresh but perhaps over-the-hill produce and place it with local restaurants happy to receive it. “We try to use and reuse,” Kevin stated recently. “If the restaurants are not wanting, the Food Bank can always find outlets for whatever we bring them. Or the Upper Room, who serves up dinners every night for those in need.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
According the the Wall Street Journal, the average American family of four wastes food to the tune of $500-$2000 annually.
Not only is this a waste of precious resources, water, soil and oil, food waste in the landfill emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas (“greenhouse” gases trap heat in the atmosphere). Methane is invisible, colorless, odorless, and combustible. It is the major component of natural gas, a fossil fuel, and a member of the group of other hydrocarbons such as ethane, propane and butane. Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. In addition to methane emissions from the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills, ethane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and from the production and transport of coal, natural gas and oil. According to the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2013, greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 in the U.S. are estimated at 3%, Fluorinated Gases 5%, Nitrous Oxide 10%, Methane and 82% Carbon Dioxide which enters the atmosphere through burning coal, natural gas, oil, solid waste, trees and wood products.
See http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/ for 25 easy steps to take at home, school, office and on the road.
REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
- Have you considered, if not decided by now, that your lawn in a chemical addict, andall those chemicals to feed it, weed it. and maintain it go into the groundwater and get transferred to other plants. Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, the No. 1 weed killer/pesticide/herbiside used by many commercial and residential gardeners, has been linked via over 100 study abstracts to diseases, toxicity, DNA damage, Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin, and more. Do you wonder why the cancer prevalent in dogs today exists when our furry friends have their noses in everyone’s yard, and lawn, including your own? What about the early demise of birds, bees and butterflies? Don’t get me started on kids in bare feet.
- Have you considered collecting your kitchen vegetable scraps in a bucket under the
sink and adding them to a composter or compost pile outside. This is a green
alternative to purchasing inorganic fertilizers, compost, potting and garden soil when your plants need a tune up.
- Prices too high at the farmers market? Yet we gladly pay top dollar for top rated
restaurant food, often not organic, or pesticide free.. Were you to take a scientific
instrument called a refactometer to the supermarket and compare their produce
juices to those at the farmers market, you would see an enormous difference in
the measurements of nutrient value. We too often demand quality everywhere
except in the food we put in our mouths and our children’s tummies.
- Consider planting your own small organic garden. It can be done with shallow
bins for greens such as kale, chard, arugula, lettuces, herbs, and barrels for deeper routed veggies like beets, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. Choose organic seedlings, organic fertilizers, such as your own organic compost or compost tea. Use organic potting soil and use a wrap-around bale of wire, if deer are a problem. .Let your home improvement store buyers know your needs and make the local organic nursery one of your best friends. They have printed instructions and seminars on every topic, and knowledgeable staff to keep you on the right track.
- Join the end food waste now movement. They have so many tips for you.
- Along Jonathon Bloom’s marching orders to stop the American Wasteland, here are a
couple more things to consider.
- Shop for the week at most, avoid the store’s coupon sale, or buying in bulk.
- Don’t be so quick to disregard or discard a carton with an expired date. It really depends on how good your refrigerator is, how it smells or tastes, and is often just fine a week after the expiration date.
- Ask your farmer for discounted “soft” fruit to make jam/chutneys, etc.
- Pickle products and have fun doing it; they make great gifts.
- Cook several meals and store in portion freezer containers.
- Soups, stews, baked goods, casseroles and stir fries all freeze well.
- Consider portions of frittata, breakfast burritos, French toast sandwiches.
- Look at what is waning in the fridge and make a soup, stew or stir-fry.
- Above all, get back in the kitchen, use your imagination and have fun!
7 It’s not Pillsbury and the Dough Boy any more, get up to date with these trailblazers:
Ohlson, Kristin. The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet Hardcover – March 18, 2014
Barber, Dan. The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food
Leake, Lisa (2014-08-26). 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Bittman, Mark. Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.
Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. Washington, D.C.: NewTrends Publishing, Inc., 1999.
Kingsolver, Barbara, Stevel L. Hopp, and Camille Kingsolver . Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. Le Billon, Karen. French Kids Eat Everything. New York: William Morrow, 2012. O’Brien, Robyn. The Unhealthy Truth. New York: Harmony, 2010.
Pollan, Michael. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.
Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin Books, 2008.
Warner, Melanie. Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal. New York: Scribner, 2014.
Fed Up, Katie Couric and Laurie David (producers), 2014.
Food, Inc., Robert Kenner (director), 2008.