Growing up, my Italian-American mother has always made sure I was cognizant of food waste. Her mindset has always been to create an unexpected dish out of what is left in the refrigerator before tossing it. Recently, however, laziness has led me to order delivery instead of whipping up a meal out of what I have at my disposal. In turn, I usually wind up throwing out my leftovers, as well as the fresh produce that has gone bad in my refrigerator. In turn, doubling the amount of food waste that I am creating. NO BUENO!
This excessive food wasting is not only a personal problem but a nation-wide one as well. In the United States alone, we waste about 31 percent of our food. It is this unnecessary waste throughout the country that has inspired cities like San Francisco and Seattle to begin mandating citywide composting. By shedding light on this issue, it helps reduce our impact environmentally and economically but has an immense social impact as well.
Co-owners of Blue Hill restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Dan, David and Laureen Barber, realized that aside from food waste being counteractive to their bottom line, they saw a need to dive deeper into this issue and come up with really a solution. Putting together their creative minds, and calling on brilliance from the likes of Mario Batali, April Bloomfield, Andrew Carmellini, Dominique Ansel, and Brooks Headley, along with many others. They found that there was more than meets the eye with stale bread and fish bones. From March 13th–31st Blue Hill, which is widely known for its emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, was transformed into wastED.
The menus consisted of food that is often have been viewed as garbage but was revamped into exciting culinary creations. Local farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, plant breeders, producers, restaurants, and retailers all came together to showcase items from every stage of the food chain that normally gets discarded. Some notables featured were beef tallow candles, which doubled as ambiance and a dipping sauce for the bread that was served as it melted. Other items included, a vegetarian cheeseburger made from the pulp waste of pressed juice, and a dumpster-dive vegetable salad, made from damaged storage apples and pears, topped with chickpea water that was whipped into a foam.
While Blue Hill has since resumed regular service again, the influence of wastED has been felt throughout New York City and the country. Hopefully, now everyone will think twice about discarding those bruised vegetables before turning them into a pesto.