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Loi254

How much food goes wasted?

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Hi everyone,

 

I've had this concern from a long time and I think this would be the right place to talk about it. What do you do with the leftover food in your restaurants? How much food do you think goes wasted? I recently came across this infographic ( https://www.unipointsoftware.com/food-waste-facts/ ) that clearly shows the statics of the amount of food that goes wasted around the world, in different stages of its process. These food wasted in each stage of food process is the main cause of world hunger. What we consider as a small waste is actually contributing to a greater loss. Has anyone ever thought of this? What are your views and suggestions?

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 While I am in no doubt that the amount of food wasted is a major problem, I would prefer to see statistics and reports other than in the form of an advertisement from a waste control company. However well they credit sources, their selection process remains opaque. 

 

While I am not accusing them of dishonesty, they obviously have vested interest in maximising the negative.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Where I work, there is very little waste from our end. If that's what you're asking about. I honestly don't think we could improve by much in that area. Maybe in some very small ways like tossing a bit of lettuce that could technically be eaten but wouldn't look nice in the salad or something like that. If you're asking how much the customers waste because they order more than they're able to eat, I don't really know but have no control over that if I did know. I'm not going to say to a customer "I'm sorry but I think you're getting a little greedy there, maybe you should order less so you don't waste any." I completely disagree with your statement that "the food waste in each stage of the process is the main cause of world hunger". I think a good management and distribution system to deal with that waste could help solve some of the world hunger problems but it's not the cause of it.

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Waste before food gets to the plate is relatively minimal, otherwise the restaurant goes under. Period. Mostly it's things like carrot and potato skins, kale ribs, melon rinds, surplus fat trimmed from cuts of meat, that kind of thing. 

 

Post-diner waste (ie stuff left on plates) is problematic, because once it leaves the kitchen it's a liability issue waiting to happen. Aside from conventional food safety issues you've also got the possibility of contamination with allergens, or from the dude at Table 17 whose nasty cough turns out to be a drug-resistant strain of TB he brought back from his bucket-list trip to Nepal. 

 

Realistically, a larger source of preventable waste is the standards of physical size and appearance demanded by the supermarkets/wholesalers, and ultimately consumers. A lot of substandard produce just gets dumped or composted, despite the efforts of a few retailers in promoting "imperfect" produce. I've seen stats while researching articles, but I'm much too caffeine-deficient to dig up references at the moment. 

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Another vote for not a lot of waste in production. As a pastry chef, my garbage is egg shells, fruit skins, parchment paper, plastic wrap, and such. Mistakes get made but I try not to waste product. 

 

With menu items, it can be tricky to match production to demand so sure, some things get discarded after a few days but mostly I would give those to restaurant staff to eat. 

 

Catered parties are the biggest source of waste in my world. You make what they order but people don't show or drink instead of eat. Last week there was a party for 125 people who pre-ordered 24 dozen dessert minis (288 pieces).  We all knew this was probably way too much but what are you supposed to do when the client wants to impress people with bounty?  There ended up being another party that night who we needed some of the first party's desserts for but there was still a full tray of about 50 cupcakes leftover in the walk-in the next day. I commiserated with the chef, who told me they filled up on "bottomless" French fries. So that gets frustrating but we generally give the client what they want. 

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I will plead guilty to food wastage, in the category of "my eyes being bigger than my stomach" category. In particular, when farmers' market season begins, I buy way too much fresh produce, overestimating the time I'll have to cook it. I salvage some by freezing or pickling, but I still find myself putting uncooked veggies on my compost heap, kicking myself mentally all the while.

 

Hoping that concentrating on the garden this year will help me past that hump.

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While I can and do accept that sensible restaurants will minimise waste as much as possible, restaurant eating is only a part of the food story. Most food is eaten outside of restaurants.

 

Tonnes of perfectly edible, misshapen or otherwise cosmetically "imperfect" foodsuffs never even leaves the farms they are produced on. Supermarkets won't take them.

In turn, supermarkets destroy tonnes of food every day as it reaches some imaginary 'sell by date'. The large supermarkets have all admitted this practice.

Then there is all the food waste at home. A lot of the food carried home from the supermarket is never eaten, but sits in the fridge or freezer for a while before being dumped.

 

I'm posting this from my cell phone, so no sources for now, but there are many independent, non-partisan sources which are not difficult to find.

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Come on - this discussion is like a group of high school freshmen in AP science getting together to cure cancer. The issue is acknowledged and vastly studied; potential plans of all types out there. Do the research-  one example http://www.foodwastealliance.org/  

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11 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Tonnes of perfectly edible, misshapen or otherwise cosmetically "imperfect" foodstuffs never even leaves the farms they are produced on. Supermarkets won't take them.

 

The ugly ones and small ones could still be used for juice, jam, or baby food.  Are we producing so much that there's no market for the seconds? 

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10 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

The ugly ones and small ones could still be used for juice, jam, or baby food.  Are we producing so much that there's no market for the seconds? 

 

I often buy "canning tomatoes," which are either too small/misshapen for regular sale at the farmer's market, or have small "bad spots" or have split due to overripeness. 

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"...high school freshmen in AP science getting together to cure cancer."

and a not inaccurate description of the publicity is 'maximized hyperbolic numbers for shock value'

 

here's how they define:
"Food waste: Any solid or liquid food substance, raw or cooked, which is discarded, or
intended or required to be discarded. Food waste includes the organic residues (such as
carrot or potato peels) generated by the processing, handling, storage, sale, preparation,
cooking, and serving of food."

 

now, I don't know about you, but when I buy a dozen ears of sweet corn at the local farm stand, I really don't intend to eat the shucks and the cob - but this is "countable waste" according to this fine organization.

 

so then they define:
"Food waste diversion: Pertains to all food that is not sold or consumed, which could be
diverted to a higher value use than landfill or incineration."

 

so donations, animal food, composting, etc. is a waste of food that is "diverted"

 

so then they break down the "food waste" by ultimate fate:
- 96.8% is "recycled" - note the change in terminology from "diversion" to "recycled"
- 01.5% is "donated"
- 01.7%is "disposed" of - one assumes they mean without further value/use/land filled.

 

so, doing the math, while we're sitting here smugly wasting 20% of food grown, actually it's 1.7% of the 20% - which is 0.34% of the "production volume" - that goes to no further use.

 

The facts, ma'am - just the facts.

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8 hours ago, kayb said:

 

I often buy "canning tomatoes," which are either too small/misshapen for regular sale at the farmer's market, or have small "bad spots" or have split due to overripeness. 

 

One summer my farmers' market booth was next to a tomato guy, he always had a seconds bin for the split ones.  For the small farmer, it makes sense to sell as much as you can grow no matter what.

 

What I wonder about is the industrial scale.  Take tree fruit - apples and peaches are packed in cases by size, but all sizes are still visually perfect. So the grower is doing some sorting into at least large perfect, medium prefect, small perfect, and imperfect.  It's hard to believe that all the imperfect fruit isn't worth selling at a lower price to processors.  Maybe the large processors have contracts for exactly what they want and don't want to go around scrounging for scraps?  I went to college near Sacramento (aka Sacra-tomato), all summer long you could smell the Hunt-Wesson plant processing truckload after truckload of tomatoes (well, depending on which way the wind blew, sometimes it was far more barnyard).  For an operation like that, they probably take all the tomatoes and sort them out later into what goes for whole peeled vs diced vs ketchup.   Maybe the wholesale distribution channels aren't set up with an outlet for the imperfect? 

 

Here in Western WA we have Food Lifeline, who works with the farmers or at least the distributors to get "extra" produce into needy hands.  I know they work with Charlie's Produce, probably the biggest regional produce wholesaler, and it's win-win because Charlie's doesn't have to pay waste management and gets a tax write-off and food banks get supplies.

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there was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day...the city had hosted an event for the NFL draft. Apparently many pallets of Greek yogurt cups and drinks which were not consumed were able to be picked up due to the coordination of a local organization who mobilized refrig trucks and places that could take the bounty. I believe the Salvation Army wound up with the bulk of it, as they had the biggest refrig to hold all of it. They had plans to distribute to Senior Meals programs and others. It was quite an eye opener to read about the challenges of how to get a sizeable donation actually out of one place and in to another. Particularly since it was a perishable item.

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2 hours ago, BeeZee said:

there was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day...the city had hosted an event for the NFL draft. Apparently many pallets of Greek yogurt cups and drinks which were not consumed were able to be picked up due to the coordination of a local organization who mobilized refrig trucks and places that could take the bounty. I believe the Salvation Army wound up with the bulk of it, as they had the biggest refrig to hold all of it. They had plans to distribute to Senior Meals programs and others. It was quite an eye opener to read about the challenges of how to get a sizeable donation actually out of one place and in to another. Particularly since it was a perishable item.

Who knew donating could be so complicated. xD 

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The one time I dined at Le Bec Fin (original location) I asked the question and was told all leftovers were used to feed the poor.

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40 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

The one time I dined at Le Bec Fin (original location) I asked the question and was told all leftovers were used to feed the poor.

 

Good for Le Bec Fin.

 

Laws must be different in NJ. I was appalled one night when we were eating at the last pizza buffet restaurant (now defunct) in Cary. It was near closing time, and an employee was dumping pizzas from the buffet into the garbage can. I e-mailed the restaurant's contact at their website, and the owner himself replied to the effect that they had tried to donate food, and got into trouble for it. This was cooked food, though, so it may be different for other things. This also happened several years ago, so things might be different now. I know food drives around here ask for non-perishables.

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1 hour ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

 

Good for Le Bec Fin.

 

Laws must be different in NJ. I was appalled one night when we were eating at the last pizza buffet restaurant (now defunct) in Cary. It was near closing time, and an employee was dumping pizzas from the buffet into the garbage can. I e-mailed the restaurant's contact at their website, and the owner himself replied to the effect that they had tried to donate food, and got into trouble for it. This was cooked food, though, so it may be different for other things. This also happened several years ago, so things might be different now. I know food drives around here ask for non-perishables.

 

Le Bec Fin was in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and this was the early 1980's.

 

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