Recipe creation can be a fun, gratifying and satiating experience. With all of your senses in high gear, you draw from various food-related memories – be it last week at a gourmet restaurant or a childhood experience like cooking with a grandparent, which is deeply ingrained in your soul. Your kitchen turns into a science lab, as you try out different flavor combinations and translate a memory into reality. Continue reading
Over the last several years, brunch has been having what some would call a moment. Following in “lunching‘s”’ footsteps, brunching has become a legitimate verb, becoming a regular in our weekend schedules and settling happily into our stomachs. It’s not surprising that the meal surpasses all other meal types. Brunch has got it all – if you’re into eggs, pancakes, french toast, waffles, granola… should I go on? Add in some delicious beverages, like a cappuccino or a freshly squeezed orange juice mimosa and there’s little more that you will need in your life.
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.
Fact: There are 7 billion people on this planet (estimated to grow to 9 billion by 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.
According to WRAP Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012, the following foods are wasted the most by consumers in their homes:
- Fruits & Vegetables = 27%
- Drinks = 17%
- Bakery = 11%
- Meals = 10%
- Dairy = 10%
- Meat = 7%
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.
Having a green event is something that anyone can do — all it takes is a little bit of research and some planning. There are lots of “green party guidelines” available online, or you can always choose to hire a green caterer or environmentally committed party planner to help out. Because events tend to consume so many resources and generate quite a lot of waste, “greening” your next event is a great way to lessen the carbon footprint of your next big (or small) bash.
What IS a green event? It’s an event that is organized with the goal of minimizing waste and promoting sustainable actions. It’s not just about recycling though — it’s about reducing the amount of resources used, encouraging the reuse of resources, and making sure that materials are properly disposed through recycling or composting as much as possible.
Most of the “standard” ways of planning an event usually do have environmentally preferable alternatives. Some examples might include sending paperless invitations, buying seasonal locally grown food and flowers, using natural or reusable decor, minimizing printed materials, and buying event supplies and tableware that are environmentally friendly.
Here’s something to think about: according to the Green Restaurant Association more than 113 BILLION disposable cups, 29 BILLION disposable plates and 39 BILLION disposable utensils are used in the U.S. each year. Wow.
Using compostable tableware and serving utensils are one of the easiest solutions to going green at your next event. Choices go from simple everyday designs to more stylish options for higher end occasions.
At PacknWood, our extensive range of party and catering supplies make planning your green event much easier. Our catering trays have recycled plastic lids that easily transform the trays into take-out boxes for party leftovers, and our Stylish Sugarcane collection is biodegradable and can be thrown right into the compost heap. And our cornstarch-based disposable utensils are designed to decompose soon after use in a compost bin.
We would love to see pics of your next green event!