Massimo Bottura teams with Montreal chefs to combat hunger and food waste

World-renowned chef Massimo Bottura is joining forces with three Canadian chefs to combat food waste and end hunger. Bottura is the owner and chef at Osteria Francescana, a three Michelin star restaurant known for pushing boundaries and fostering innovation in Italian cuisine. Now, he is fostering a solution to hunger and food insecurity in Italy and around the world, by opening soup kitchens that serve gourmet meals made from rescued food.  Bottura’s campaign against food waste began when he converted an old theater in Milan into a soup kitchen during the Expo Milan in 2015. Using only food leftover from the Expo, Bottura and a team of Canadian chefs created a gourmet meal and served  anyone who came to the theater doors. After completing a project called “Theater of Life”, a multi-media documentary based on his efforts to reduce food waste, Bottura is now planning to open another soup kitchen at the Rio Olympics using excess food from the events.

Read Phi Center’s interview with Massimo here.

 

Famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura launched his waste reduction campaign in October, when he began using the food waste from Expo Milan to run a local soup kitchen.

 

Image from www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-chefs-massimo-bottura-food-waste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ubifood app may help cut retail food waste in Montreal

Many restaurants and cafes practice the “day-old” system of selling food the day after it was made for a discounted price, yet the leftovers do not always make it into the hands of consumers. Caroline Pellegrini, a Montrealer and innovative food waste warrior, realized the extent of this issue when visiting a friend’s sushi restaurant. She noticed that there were boxes upon boxes of 50% off sushi left over at the end of the day, which no one was buying.
This sparked the idea for Ubifood, an app that shows users which restaurants and cafes in their area have discounted food that is approaching its best before date or must be sold by the end of the day.

Ubifood app

If you see something that catches your eye as you scroll through the tantalizing pictures of cake slices, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and loaves of bread, you can pay for it instantly and it will be reserved until you pick it up. As of now, unless you live in Montreal (and own an apple device- they are currently working on an android-compatible app) don’t go reaching for your phone quite yet; Ubifood only serves the Montreal area but is planning to broaden the app’s scope.

Pellegrini and her team currently have 20 participating retailers and are aiming to reach 100 in the next few months. It seems like only a matter of time until it expands to cities across the country. The app aims to reduce food waste, though as Pellegirni says,”Everybody benefits. The consumers, retailers, and the planet – all at once,”.

Read more about the app on the Ubifood website here.

Quote and image from www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/ubifood-app-aims-to-curb-food-waste-in-montreal.

U.S. House Committee on Agriculture begins review on food waste issues

Delegates from across America (including award-winning chefs) recently took part in a food waste review conducted by the House Agricultural Committee, an organization that oversees agricultural policy in the United States. The hearing was centered on current issues relating to food waste and initiated an imperative discussion on future policies and solutions. Participants heard from a variety of actors and industry leaders, who spoke about the need to reduce food waste along the commodity chain.

The review has spanned two days so far and has been spearheaded by many prominent industry actors such as Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, who aims to raise consciousness of the paradox of excess food waste existing alongside poverty and hunger in the U.S. In her statement at the hearing, Aviv emphasized the importance of food rescue and food waste redirection to charity organizations that serve those in need. According to Aviv, Feeding America and its charity networks provided 3.7 billion meals in 2015 with food that would have otherwise been destined for the trash.

This is a very positive step forward for food waste reduction in America and I hope to see a similar event in Canada in the near future, possibly with participation from organizations such as Second Harvest.

You can read further on the food waste review and its progress here.

(Participants in the May 25th Food Waste Review. Image from http://agriculture.house.gov)

Reducing Food Waste in Korea

In 2013, Korea brought into effect the Marine Environment Management Act, banning the disposal of food waste water into the ocean in order to comply with the London Convention. With this new law came a serious crack-down on food waste in Korea. In a small and densely populated country, and one where the standard of living has grown so quickly, waste was becoming a serious problem. New systems were put in place, and now the significance of such changes can be seen.

Residents were accustomed to a pay-as-you-go system for waste, but in 2013  this changed from a flat collection rate to a pay-by-weight system  for food waste. This was put in place for residents, but also businesses and restaurants.

In parts of Seoul, smart disposal systems were implemented where individuals were given ID cards that are scanned before the waste is dropped into waste bins and weighed. In other areas, residents must purchase specific bags that are priced by volume.

“SK Telecom, Korea’s largest wireless carrier, has designed RFID food waste bins with equipment that will weigh food waste to the nearest gram. Photo: KIM GYONG HO / JEJUWEEKLY.COM”

In the neighborhoods where  the smart disposal system has been implemented, Seoul has seen a 30% decrease in food waste.  Filmmaker Karim Chrobog has created a short documentary on the changes in South Korea as part of the e360 video series “Wasted” (the whole thing is worth watching). To get a bigger picture of the changes, you can watch the video here.

For residents, this strict regulation has created incentives to lower waste (or learn some small scale composting skills!), but some might argue that it is excessively strict. No one can argue, however, that it hasn’t made a difference: in a relatively short amount of time, waste in neighbourhoods with a pay-by-weight system decreased their food waste by 30%. Not only is the waste being reduced by consumers, the collected waste is not headed for landfill but for animal feed, fertilizer, or conversion to electricity. These laws also target waste across multiple sectors, in contrast to, for instance, the recent law in France requiring only large supermarkets to donate excess edibles to charities. It’s possible too that, as mentioned in the film, food retailers and restaurants concerned with their bottom line will do more to reduce waste, but also might make more of an effort to connect with charities for the waste that still remains. The changes made in Korea do involve high costs and technology as well as some ‘tough love’ – laying down a stricter system – but it seems to be getting the desired results!

For more on how Korea’s Ministry of Environment is tackling food waste check out:

http://www.asiatoday.com/pressrelease/south-koreas-food-waste-solution-you-waste-you-pay

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/27/food-waste-around-world

http://www.earth911.com/food/south-korea-charging-for-food-waste/

Think. Eat. Save.

Think. Eat. Save.

From the Think.Eat.Save website:

“The Think.Eat.Save campaign of the Save Food Initiative is a partnership between UNEP, FAO and Messe Düsseldorf, and in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which seeks to add its authority and voice to these efforts in order to galvanize widespread global, regional and national actions, catalyze more sectors of society to be aware and to act, including through exchange of inspiring ideas and projects between those players already involved and new ones that are likely to come on board.

We offer the Think.Eat.Save website as a portal to showcase these ideas to provide a one-stop shop for news and resources, and to launch our call for everyone to take action on this global concern.”

Cooking to reduce waste

"The Waste Not Want Not Cook Book: Save Food, Save Money and Save the Planet" offers advice on how to store and serve different fruits and vegetables to prevent food from being wasted.

One of the primary issues with household food waste is that many home cooks have the best of intentions but lack the know-how to reduce waste in the kitchen. When performing surveys last summer, I often found that when I asked people how easy it would be for them to reduce their food waste, they often struggled to think of ways that this could be done. Improving kitchen skills in order to make less waste the norm can be helpful. The food waste that comes out of the kitchen is mostly avoidable, but avoiding waste requires some commitment and effort, at least until it becomes habit. To help with the practical and delicious side of cooking without waste, Cinda Chavich has created a new cookbook, Waste Not, Want Not Cook Book: Save Food, Save Money, Save the Planet.  Another new book is the Waste-free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders of the National Resource Defense Council. So if you’re keen to join the new green food trend of waste free cooking, you may want to check them out. My favourite way to save my groceries from rotting in the fridge is to use the  search tools on Food Gawker for recipes using those particular ingredients. Happy cooking!

Hear Chavich talk about food waste and her book here.

Food rescue retail

Former president of Trader Joe’s, Dough Rauch, has opened a groundbreaking new type of grocery store: a non-profit model that tackles food insecurity, reduces food waste, and promotes good nutrition.  The Daily Table store opened June 4, after managing to pass the hurdles of non-profit approval and convincing authorities that wasted food can be safe and nutritious food. The shop is located in the low income community of Dorchester, Massachusetts, and provides access to healthy food at very low prices.

produce at The Daily Table

This new initiative is a major departure from more traditional food charities. It is strongly committed to providing nutritious meals that can compete with fast food in its price and convenience. At the same time the retailer is committed to preventing food waste by collecting donated food and selling it fresh or transforming it into ready-to-eat meals.The shop is challenging cheap, unhealthy calories in a way that is financially and environmentally sustainable while ensuring the health and dignity of its patrons. There are many non-profits that serve rescued food, but the distinction here is that Daily Table allows customers a choice – they are not simply recipients. Being in a retail space enables Daily table to be grounded in the community, provide employment and training, as well as make money to cover costs. I’m excited to see how this project will fare as it employs it’s innovative approach to food waste, nutrition, and food insecurity.

Check out a National Geographic interview on Daily Table with founder Doug Rauch  here, or more coverage from NPR.

The solidarity fridge

Issam Massaoudi, an unemployed Moroccan immigrant, checks out what's inside the Solidarity Fridge. Massaoudi says money is tight for him, and it's "amazing" to be able to help himself to healthy food from Galdakao's communal refrigerator.

The small city of Galdakao (just outside of Bilbao, Spain) has come up with a creative solution for tackling food waste, using a communal fridge where anyone can leave or take food. The goal is not to provide charity, although providing food to the food insecure is one benefit. The primary goal is to deal with excess food. Now restaurants and citizens can leave extra food in the fridge, following some basic rules in order to maintain food safety, and anyone at all is welcome to take food from the fridge. The fridge sits on the pavement with a small fence around it to ensure it’s not mistaken for a rejected appliance.Volunteers are in place to remove any food that sits in the fridge too long, though so far nothing has had to be tossed because the food has such high turnover. It took some time to get the project up and running – especially getting city approval and a public space to use – but it seems to be proving a success, despite some initial hesitancy in the community. Already, two to three hundred kilos of food have been saved from being trash. The project was inspired by a similar initiative in Berlin and now there’s already talk of a second fridge in Galdakao and a similar project in the city of Murcia. Now I just wish there was one in Guelph…

Get the full story here:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/solidarity-fridge-spanish-town-cut-food-waste-galdakao

Crying over spilled milk

Whether or not you are in favor of the supply-managed dairy system in Ontario, when 800,000 litres of milk gets dumped, you know that something just isn’t quite right. The Globe and Mail’s article blew this wide open and revealed that the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, when faced with a greater demand for higher fat dairy products, were left with a great deal of skim milk, which was then periodically disposed. This has amounted to 800,000 litres, just since the end of May. The article places heavy blame on the supply-managed market for such ‘chronic overproduction.’ I would hesitate to place the blame so heavily on the market system, as overproduction happens in an open market as well, but rather on the fact that this type of loss is considered acceptable because it is still profitable. Even if producers refuse to sell skim milk at a reduced price, and facilities dehydrating skim milk into powder are full, there are still alternatives to dumping such as donating, or at the very least feeding to animals. What is scandalous is that while the dairy board may feel like this is an affordable loss since farmers are making money from cream and butter, it is still a loss of resources, energy, time, and money that went into producing the dairy.

Clearly there is a problem with the system if this sort of waste is acceptable to the industry. What is reassuring, however, is the public response. People have reacted with shock and anger to the disposal of this quantity of milk, which shows a level of concern that hopefully can impact producers to reconsider their practices and create a more efficient system.

Get the whole story here:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/dairy-dilemma-time-to-dump-subsidies-not-milk/article25045134/

http://www.betterfarming.com/online-news/dairy-farmers-ontario-dumps-skim-milk-surplus-60918

Eat My Words-Don’t Waste

Some super creative kids from Lammas School in London have made a song and music video to promote their anti-food waste message.  This was created by students who teamed up with the non-profit This is Rubbish at the event “Eat My Words” where students used spoken word and music to create awareness of food waste.  Check out their video, you’ll find yourself singing this all day.