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Restaurants and Food Waste Programs

            It's no secret that restaurants are a major source of food waste in this country, and a significant portion of farm-grown food never makes it to a customer's plate. American restaurants are notorious for poor waste management and it's painfully ironic how removed they've become from proper food and supply utilization. If our foodservice providers continue to waste food on such a dramatic scale, the American dining scene, as we know it, will cease to exist. To intelligently attack this problem, there are two routes that can be taken; waste management products and waste management procedures. Both approaches are vital to the sustained success of our countries food industry, and both approaches must be implemented, on some level, in every foodservice establishment.
             My background as restaurant cook has admittedly created some personal bias for this discussion. In my opinion, food waste in restaurants is a direct result of poor food by-product utilization and a lack of education in proper ingredient maintenance. End-of-season fruit, ugly vegetables, kale ribs, and fish bones are all examples of under-utilized ingredients that, if treated properly, can be transformed into components of delicious restaurant dishes. In most classic restaurant kitchens, cooks are trained only to use the freshest, most beautiful ingredients possible. We throw away slightly wilted lettuce leaves and ends of strawberries without thinking twice, and this system is fundamentally flawed. Selectively picking only the best ingredients possible is creating a food-waste epidemic that is leaving a large portion of farmed produce un-eaten. Farms and restaurants need to become much more closely connected to reduce the waste that happens between harvest and dinner service. That being said, the University of Delaware has a major agriculture program that is extremely disconnected from Vita Nova. Why are we not utilizing by-products of their cows and why are we not serving produce from their greenhouse? These are essential questions that must be addressed when discussing food waste in our universities restaurant.

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