March 09, 2018

The Spotlight As Restaurateurs & Brands Take Steps To Fight Food Waste

Roughly 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste. That's over 70 billion pounds wasted per year or nearly 250 pounds per person.

This past year, chefs like Dan Barber started to share these problems with consumers—and attempt solutions. At his New York pop-up and community movement wastED, he strives to create delicious, appetizing food out of the food that typically goes to waste at different parts in the food chain. His menu is a far cry from that of a typical NYC establishment with items like reject carrot mustard, off-grade sweet potatoes, and yesterday's oatmeal available for order. The trend doesn't stop with the food he's serving—even the candles are made from leftover beef tallow.

Ugly Greens, from NYC rooftop grower Gotham Greens, may be slightly less aesthetically appealing than their "pretty" counterparts, but they also sell for $1 less, and bring awareness, via text on their packaging, to the fact that most brands would typically throw the perfectly good product away. "Consumers increasingly care about how and where their food is produced," says CEO Viraj Puri. "As the ugly produce movement has raised awareness of the global impact of food waste, we're seeing a rise in the demand for more integrity and transparency in food production."

Gotham Greens has just begun selling their Ugly Greens at Whole Foods. Last spring, Whole Foods also committed to a full-scale ugly produce program, announced in response to a Change.org petition, being produced in partnership with Imperfect Produce, a delivery service that sends boxes of beat-up beets and not-so-cute carrots straight to consumers' doors. Over on social media, the Ugly Fruit and Veg campaign is working to spread awareness that yes, you can eat that twisted turnip.

In 2017, it'll become more normal to see blemished fruits and vegetables on the shelves of your local stores as consumers become aware of the pervasiveness of food waste.
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