When is the last time you were asked this question at a wedding or catered affair? Today, events featuring strolling chef stations, main course meals made up of multiple small plates and trendy bite-size portions, and interactive food stations have become much more interesting than the traditional sit-down main course meal.
Photo Credit: Steve Steinhardt on Inspired By This via Loverly
The mini-food catering trend began years ago and is still going strong according to caterers and event planners. People get more excited by the idea of offering their guests small tastings of allof their favorite foods rather than having to choose one main course. With a “main course” meal being made up of 5 or 6 different plates, chefs today have more opportunity to create interesting and out-of-the-ordinary menus rather than focusing on making sure guests leave with a full belly.
Ancient grains, smoked, pickled and fermented vegetables, insect foods, vegetable yogurt, hybrid liquors, healthy kids’ meals with adventurous flavors, and face recognition software in restaurants. These are just a few of the culinary themes and food trends that professionals are predicting we will be seeing in 2015.
MENU TRENDS REFLECT LIFESTYLE CHOICES Every year the National Restaurant Association predicts food and menu trends in their annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. This year, Local Sourcing, Sustainability, and Nutrition are at the top of the trends for 2015 — yet another example of our food choices naturally following our lifestyle choices. The TOP 3 FOODS (of 20) on the list are locally-sourced meats and seafood (1), locally grown produce (2), and environmental sustainability (3).
When is the last time you asked to take leftovers home from a restaurant? Today, more and more chefs and restaurateurs do not want to see good food go to waste, and encourage the idea of diners taking food home that they haven’t finished. But it wasn’t always this way, and to this day, many diners are still not comfortable with the practice.
According to the Smithsonian Institute’s blog Food & Think, the custom of using “doggie bags” started in the U.S. in the 1940’s during the Second World War, when pet owners were encouraged to feed table scraps rather than pet food to their dogs. And in 1943, San Francisco cafes started an initiative against animal cruelty by offering patrons “Pet Pakits” — cartons designed specifically to carry home leftovers for their pets. Around that same time, one Seattle restaurant provided diners with waxed paper bags labeled “Bones for Bowser.” Restaurants around the country started to follow suit, and by the mid 1950’s, doggie bags went into production. Before long, people were requesting doggie bags to take home food for themselves rather than their pets.
Packnwood has just added 3 new categories of food packaging, each one with innovative new products made from eco-friendly materials that will help kick off this years holiday entertaining season. The new categories are: Street Food Packaging, Doublewall Glass Collection, and Large Catering Trays with Lids.
“We are committed to adding new products throughout the entire year, answering to the newest trends and also introducing trends into the food packaging industry. With holiday entertaining in mind, our newest products offer smart and eco-conscious solutions that will update and simplify holiday entertaining,” says company president Adam Merran.
Fact: There are 7 billion people on this planet (estimated to grow to 9 billionby 2050), and about 925 million of those people are starving. You might be shocked and horrified to know that annually, approximately 1/3 of all the food produced for human consumption is actually wasted (as in, thrown in the garbage). That’s the equivalent of 1.3 billion tons of food, enough to feel 3 billion people (Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN).
Food Waste is something that occurs toward the back end of the food chain, meaning, at the retail and consumer level. In general, the richer the nation, the higher its per capita rate of wasted food. In the *U.S., nearly 8% of food is lost in production, the food industry loses 4%, supermarkets are responsible for 6%, restaurants contribute 15% of the food in landfills, and households throw away nearly 25% of the food they buy.
Let’s break it down. According to FAO, globally 345 million tons of food are wasted at the consumer level– that is, in our homes. That number varies in different regions of the world. So where does the U.S. stand? And further, where do WE as consumers stand? In Latin America consumers waste 55 lbs/person/year; European consumers waste 209 lbs/person/year; and in North America, food wasted by consumers comes to 253 lbs/person/year. We waste more food in North America than any other region in the world.
The good news is that 60% of our food waste at home is avoidable. It basically comes down to 2 things: 1. stop buying more food than we need, and 2. stop cooking too much at mealtimes.
Solving the problem though is not as simple as just asking people to “reduce your food waste.” We all need to first identify WHY we are throwing food away, and then we can start working on our own solutions. We all have personal reasons why we are wasting / throwing so much of our food away. Some things to consider:
Are we buying too much because we can’t remember what we already have at home? This leads to the next problem which is that we are not able to use what we have before it goes bad or spoils. One solution is to plan our menus and make lists — this is one of the most effective ways we can cut wastage AND food bills.
Maybe we stayed late at work or made last minute plans to eat out several nights in a row. The fresh food we had planned for those days goes uneaten, and eventually may go bad. Storing foods correctly could prevent spoilage, and keep foods fresh longer.
Are we overbuying because we are being seduced by supermarket bargains and bulk packaging?
Another reason for waste is that many people take the “use by” dates literally. This date only communicates peak freshness, not that food is unsafe and needs to be tossed.
Are we cooking the right amounts for ourselves and our family?
If we do have leftovers, are we storing them correctly in the fridge or freezer? When we forget to eat or use the leftovers, we end up scraping perfectly edible food into the garbage without thinking twice.
Here is video of Selina Juul’s TEDx talk on food waste. Selina is the Founder of the Stop Wasting Food movement in Denmark.
There are plenty of other things that we can do to prevent waste like growing our own fruits and vegetables, sharing with neighbors, and being careful not to over order when we eat out. There’s even an app — Love Food Hate Waste — that allows us to easily keep track of food planning, shopping, cooking meals and making the most of leftovers.
Innovative packaging can help consumers buy and use food in portions to match their needs and reduce food waste from leftovers.
Coming soon: Give those dented apples and crooked cucumbers a chance — tips for reducing waste at the retail level.