With soaring food costs and a rise in eco-awareness, food wastage is a huge issue. With new legislation recently passing in France to combat food wastage, we take a look at the issue and what establishments around the world are doing to combat it.
France’s newly-passed law bans grocery stores from discarding unsold food. The food must be donated to a charity, if it’s still safe to eat or otherwise it goes to farmers who use it either to feed their animals or as compost. Previously supermarkets had simply thrown out the excess produce and in France they even went to the extreme of covering the ‘garbage’ in bleach to ensure that no one goes rummaging through the waste to find food. This wasn’t meant as cruelty but rather to keep people from getting sick from the garbage and end up blaming the supermarkets.
Food wastage is a real problem in these financially difficult times, it is estimated that 24% of calories produced for human consumption are never eaten. Arash Derambarsh the municipal councillor from Courbevoie, France started a petition on Change.org appealing to citizens of France to take a stand on food wastage, with 210 000 people signing the petition. This was the start of the newly passed law banning supermarkets from wasting produce. If a supermarket doesn’t comply by the new law they will be fined up to €75 000.
This is a start to reducing food wastage on a global scale. In America a fifth of groceries bought are thrown out and the French throw out between 20 to 30kg of food per person per year. Seattle is also enforcing a new campaign to compost waste, with garbage disposers marking the bins if they find compostables inside, essentially shaming the citizens of Seattle into being more environmentally friendly.
Some restaurants are also starting to waste less, using bruised fruit to create smoothies and cooking stocks from the odd bits left over. Nose to tail eating also reduces food wastage and is becoming a bit of a trend, along with foraging which has also been placed in the spotlight thanks to restaurants like Noma. A new sustainable zero-waste restaurant is opening in the UK, called Silo.
Silo, situated in Brighton focuses on not letting anything go to waste. The produce is sourced locally as far as possible and Chef Douglas McMaster uses unconventional ingredients such as a Gratin made from Broccoli stems to ensure that nothing is wasted. At the entrance of the restaurant is a large compost machine, where the scraps are recycled; booze is brewed in the basement and they even mill their own flour.
McMaster who has worked at restaurants like Noma and St John in London says that there won’t be a vast range of options on his menu. In fact he is going to try and limit it to six options on the menu and then specials on the day. This is because he believes that restaurants who offer loads of options on their menus are contributing to the food wastage problem. The reasoning is sound, since restaurants who offer twenty dishes have to prepare approximately forty of each, so as not to run out. This means that most of it goes to waste, in the case of green eating less is definitely more.
In fact reducing food waste was ranked ninth among the top 20 food trends on the American National Restaurant Association’s annual “What’s Hot in 2015” list, which is based on a survey of nearly 13 000 chefs. The general public is also starting to take up the mantle by cooking from scratch again rather than simply buying a premade meal. This is especially the case with the younger generation who want to know where their food comes from and how best to prepare it. The focus is on green eating among the hipsters of South Africa as well and all of this is essential in creating awareness to prevent an international food crisis.