Almost half of the food that’s produced in the United States is wasted every year, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
A documentary called Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, released in late 2017, aims to use star power to raise awareness of what consumers can do. Narrated and executive-produced by food-world superstar Anthony Bourdain and including many famous chefs, it offers a unique spin on the issue by showcasing the delicious culinary innovations that have arisen from trying to waste less food, from beer made with wasted bread to whey-based energy generators.
Since waste reduction is a major focus area for Bon Appétit, the company purchased a dozen licenses for the Bon Appétit Fellows to be able to screen the film on college campuses (and elsewhere by client request).
More than 100 students turned out to watch Wasted! at Colby College in Waterville, ME. The Bon Appétit team served fun zerowaste food items, including a mini cup made of granola and filled with local yogurt. The students seemed to love the film, with “Amazing!” being repeated multiple times on comment cards, reports General Manager Marietta Lamarre.
Bon Appétit Fellow Claire Kelloway hosted screenings at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City. At Eckerd, the Bon Appétit catering team put together a killer spread of upcycled snacks, including cream of mushroom soup from mushroom stems, zucchini peel bread, and perhaps the biggest hit of the evening, fried carrot and potato peels. Students wasted nothing, taking leftovers in coffee cups as late night study snacks. And at St. Mary’s, Claire partnered with the campus Food Recovery Network chapter on the Wasted! screening. Sous Chef Manager Patrick Warren showed how tasty thrift can be with deviled eggs with crispy pork made from surplus hardboiled eggs and bacon trim, potato skins, and turkey ‘chicharrón’; bruschetta made from tomato tops and bottoms on grilled dayold bread; and a dessert of applesauce from bruised apples served inside their own roasted apple skins.
In partnership with the sustainability office and the Sustainability Leadership Program (SLP) at DePauw University, Bon Appétit Fellow Shira Kaufman hosted a Wasted! screening for 50 attendees, including faculty, professors, and students, at the Greencastle, IN, campus. Two groups of SLP students gave short presentations on community outreach and the campus farm, which Shira followed with information about what Bon Appétit does to fight food waste.
At a joint screening for Pitzer and Claremont McKenna Colleges in Claremont, CA, Bon Appétit Fellow Caroline Ferguson opened the event with a short presentation about Bon Appétit’s waste initiatives. Student volunteers from Pitzer’s EcoCenter and Claremont McKenna’s Sustainable Students Promoting Environmental Action and Responsibility (SSPEAR) club also shared some of the work they have been doing on their campuses. They even had some encouraging news: SSPEAR has successfully reduced front-of-house waste by an average of 40 percent through four Weigh the Waste events on campus! And then everyone watched the new film. Afterward, the guests snacked on treats incorporating Imperfectly Delicious Produce (Bon Appétit’s program to fight food waste on farms by getting cosmetically challenged, over-/under-sized, or underutilized fruits and vegetable into the supply chain), including Buffalo cauliflower, kale salad with roasted fruit, and spice cake.
At University of the Pacific, the Bon Appétit team hosted a pre-screening hors d’oeuvre hour for students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding Stockton, CA, community. A local guitarist played while guests enjoyed IDP snacks, including garden quiche, broccoli slaw, and tapenade with house-made chips, and chatted with Farm to Fork vendors at tables throughout the room. After the screening, Caroline moderated a panel discussion with local food waste and agriculture experts: Marco Alvarado, executive chef at Pacific; Kenda Templeton, deputy director of Puentes (a Stockton nonprofit that supports urban farming and food access); Edward Figueroa, executive director of St. Mary’s Interfaith Community Services (the university’s food recovery partner); and compost expert Eric Firpo, founder of In Season Nursery.
As with all these screenings, the audience left with an appreciation for the many ways that food waste can be not only useful — it can be downright delicious!