Brooklyn-based, Josh Treuhaft, founded Salvage Supperclub in 2014. He sporadically organizes dinners for a mere $50 per patron. On a mission to save waste, his delicious food is made from perfectly edible and safe ingredients that are past their prime and headed for the trash.
And! His customers get to eat their gourmet meals inside a dumpster! The totally cleaned and hygienic venue is a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the enormous amount of food we trash without thinking.
Food waste is a growing problem both in the United States and across the globe. In North America, 30-40% of perfectly edible food ends up in the trash each year; almost 20 pounds of food/person/month! Most of it ends up in our landfills, while over 48 million Americans, including 15.3 million kids, do not have sufficient food.
People everywhere are coming up with creative solutions to share what we waste.
In New York’s Westchester County, students at 18 schools participate in a program called We Future Cycle. Started by Anna Giordano and Ashley Welde in 2014, students are taught to recycle, compost, and curb food waste at their school by using three clearly marked bins – compost, recycle and share. https://wefuturecycle.com
While the first two are self-explanatory and common in schools, the third is rare. This is the bin where kids can toss their unwanted drinks, fruits, and untouched sandwiches. Items in the container are available for any student who wants them. Whatever remains at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen or food bank. Giordano says the three bins have helped reduce the number of trash bags generated at the mid-day meal from an average of 22 to just 2!
After your local supermarket closes, countless items are taken off their shelves. From canned vegetables and salad dressings to fresh vegetables and deli meats, approaching their expiration dates or because they are no longer at their peak quality, most stores consider them unfit for sale. With 15,000 different products in an average supermarket and 25,000 in a superstore, food retailers in the US are left with endless “past their prime” items.
So, fresh vegetables and meats get cooked up for in-store deli and salad counters, some portion gets thrown into the dumpster and ends up in landfills or gets picked over by dumpster divers. Surprisingly much of it finds its way to food banks, soup kitchens or salvage stores.
Salvage stores are seeing a steady uptake in business from cost conscious consumers. Food banks reported an increase of 40% in the demand for emergency food assistance in the last year, according to Feeding America, a network of over 200 food banks.
Expired food is becoming an increasing part of America’s diet. The Food and Drug Administration approves.
“Food can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly,” says Dr Ted Labuza, professor of food science at the University of Minnesota. For fresh produce and refrigerated foods this means storage at below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Canned foods and shelf-stable goods like salad dressings can be consumed for years beyond their expiration dates. While their quality might suffer, they will not pose a safety hazard unless contaminated.
Apart from baby formula and certain types of baby foods, product dating is not uniformly required by federal regulations. Dating of some food is required by more than 20 states, but there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has a type of “open date” and other areas where almost no food is dated.
Check out Rob Greenfield http://robgreenfield.tv He finds enormous amounts of food for free.
How You Can Help:
- Volunteer at a food bank. To find one near you click on http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/
- Donate what Food Banks actually need. http://foodlets.com/2014/11/18/what-food-banks-need-most-and-what-they-get-too-much-of/ most request non expired food.
- Start a conversation with your kids about food waste. Have that conversation with yourself, your friends and your coworkers.
- Prevent and Reduce Food Waste by planning meals, create good cooking and storage habits, get a food sharing app http://leftoverswap.com
- Spread the word, write an editorial, talk about it on your social media, join firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Start your own Food Waste Campaign. Donate extra food from cafeterias or meetings to shelters. Start a compost program or green team at work.
- Support Businesses who donate their excess food to feed the hungry or compost their kitchen scraps. To find businesses in your area search “sustainable,” “slow food,” “zero-waste” and “green” restaurants.
- Engage your state and local governments to enact programs that can reduce large scale food waste. Develop a set of ideas or recommendations and identify the appropriate people to meet. Identify potential allies such as like-minded local environmental or hunger relief organizations.
- Volunteer with Food Rescue Organizations like: Feeding America, Ample Harvest, Urban Gleaners, Community Plates, The Campus Kitchens Project, Food Recovery Network