Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Network Channel’s The Big Waste: Ugly Food

by Tamar Kaminski (Rep)

A couple of years ago the Food Network Channel had a competition among four prominent chefs called The Big Waste to see who could make the best meal using food from farms, grocery stores, and other food suppliers that was thrown out or in the process of being thrown out. The program followed chefs Anne Burrell, Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, and Michael Simon as they retrieved food in the process of being thrown out and later made restaurant quality food for a hundred people. This was an amazing awareness tactic—famous chefs in a competition on a channel whose audience is obviously invested in food.
 
Although they covered an array of topics involving food waste—different sources of food waste and ways to deal with it (including “dumpster diving”)—I think one of the critical messages of the show was responsible consumerism. Many of the grocery stores threw away bruised and blemished produce because costumers only buy “pretty” produce. There were similar issues with meat, fish, and egg suppliers; Food has to be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer, otherwise it goes to waste.
 
What can we do as consumers to deal with this issue?
1. Start buying “ugly” food. As proven on The Big Waste, a lot of food waste is completely edible and has the capacity to be made into restaurant quality meals, whether it is ugly or not uniform or past the sell date (different from the expiration date!). Consuming more ugly food means showing food suppliers that there is a demand for ugly food; they don’t have to throw away the produce left over at the end of the day.
2. Start eating the “ugly” food you have at home. That over-ripe tomato can be turned into marinara sauce and that brown banana can be turned into delicious banana bread. Be creative. Have fun with it.
 
Woo ugly food!

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