A big issue today fro restaurants and food businesses large and small is waste. inefficiencies in the system that lead to a huge amount of waste each day.
Specifically food waste. In a first world country where a surprising amount of the population still wonders were there next meal is coming from, how are we throwing away and letting so much of our food go to waste.
Now I am not trying to stand on a pedestal and say we don’t waste food, we do. It has unfortunately become a normal thing in any food business. You try to sell what you can but undoubtably you are left with some waste, it goes bad and it needs to be thrown out.
This isn’t an easy problem to solve and I am sure there is people much smarter than I working on trying to find an answer but with a small shift we can actually start to reduce our waste.
compost - want to garden or even just grow herbs, start composting and you will directly see the results. Don’t want to get your hands in the soil or don’t have the space most cities provided a compost service, yes it may cost $75/ year but most of the time you can pay it off quarterly and it send up costing pennies a day.
Shop smarter - this can be hard in the food businesses as you don’t know how much you are going to sell, but even small shift of weighing your products and doing the math to see how much you need to buy, this not only waste less but also keeps more profit in your pocket.
If your a sane person and chose not to work in the food business for a living and just like to cook, but a $10 kitchen scale to weigh your recipes.
Extra food - this is inevitable and really my main focus for food waste. What to do with leftovers/ extra food before it goes bad to it can be used. There is a few options all require a little extra work.
use your freezer - veg scrapes, use those for stock, don’t have use for that ground meat freeze it for later use, almost anything can be frozen and yes it won’t be as pristine as it once was but get creative and find a way to utilize that ingredient. We are getting into soup season so that shouldn’t be too hard
learn about preserves - pickle, ferment, cure, dehydrate and other methods have been around for 100 or more years to preserve food before we had refrigeration, even the beloved duck confit was first done as a preservation method.
Find uses for throwaway scrapes- extra bones, veggie scrapes and other can easily be used to stock and soups. Do yourself a favor and buy a stove top pressure cooker and you will be flush with rich and delicious stocks. As the old adage goes “he (or she) with the biggest pantry wins.”
I think thats all I ave for now there is plenty of other more details and instructional ways to prevent food waste. Another not mentioned is finding a food bank or shelter you can donate to, to get the food directly in the hands of those who need it.
To end on a more optimistic note, the times are changing the fact that there is so much going on with not wasting food is a good sign of whats to come, I imagine we will even see more “scrape restaurants” in the future. As food professionals, part of our job is to steer the food conversation into sustainability and health, to be the experimenters and open peoples eyes to new techniques, ingredients and methods to utilize the food. Not only because its fun, saves us money but because people will always need an affordable healthy way to eat and feed those they love.