Here’s a disgusting stat: New York throws out over a million tons of food waste annually, and over 650,000 tons of that comes from restaurants. “Who cares?” you may think. “Doesn’t it decompose?” Yes and no.
“As it’s decomposing in the landfill, it’s covered with plastics and other inorganic materials, so it takes 20 or more years to decompose,” says Julie Raskin, Executive Director of The Foundation for New York’s Strongest, the official non-profit organization of the NYC Department of Sanitation. “In that process, it is emitting methane, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. It has an actual negative environmental effect.”
These staggering statistics are why the foundation has created the Food Waste Fair, an expo meant to educate New York residents and businesses about this issue. The fair’s main culinary event, the Zero Food Waste Culinary Showdown, takes place this Thursday, May 23rd from 6 to 9pm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, hosted by Jake Cohen of Feedfeed. There, chefs and culinary leaders from restaurants such as Hunky Dory, Cafe Clover and Made Nice will compete in making meals from “upcycled” foods and ingredients we typically overlook, and the participants and a panel of foodies will judge the winning dishes. Event goers will enjoy cocktails and sample an eight-course menu, including a dip with chips made from the peels of sweet potatoes and a ricotta tart made with the leftover rinds from the lemons served in the cocktails, as well as meet and ask questions to the chefs.
The burden of reducing food waste does not just lie upon restaurants though; we can all reduce our food waste in the kitchens of our own homes. We spoke to a few of the chefs, foodies, and participants who will be at the Zero Waste Challenge event and compiled 10 tips to lower your food waste, for your own at-home showdown.