The Problem With Food Waste...And What You Can Do About It.

kitchen scrap vegetable stock
 

Imagine going to the grocery store on a weekly shopping trip. You peruse the aisles, stock up on basics, and maybe pick out a few treats.  With your loaded cart, you head to the cashier and hand her your hard-earned money, but you set aside $30. Then, on your way out of the supermarket, you drop that $30 in the trash.

Sounds crazy, right? That $30 is the amount of money that the average American household of four wastes in food every week, throwing out approximately $120 of food each month. Multiply that by an entire country and we’re wasting about $218 billion dollars growing, processing, packaging, distributing, and selling food that no one is going to eat. That’s approximately 40% of the food produced in the United States. Food waste is bad for the environment – it wastes valuable resources like water and farmland, and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. And at the same time, 1 in 8 Americans is food insecure, meaning that they don’t have reliable access to sufficient food. How can we stop throwing out so much food when people are going hungry?

There’s work to be done at every step of the food chain, but this website is for anyone who buys food and makes meals. Whether you cook just for yourself or whether you feed an entire household, you’ve probably found yourself throwing out food. Maybe you only needed a tablespoon of fresh parsley in a recipe, then the rest wilted since you didn’t have a plan for it. Or you bought a bag of apples, but they started to wrinkle before anyone could eat them. Or maybe you roasted a chicken and ate most of it, but no one ate the leftovers. No one likes throwing out food, but sometimes it seems unavoidable. Many of us have busy schedules that leave us little time to cook at all, much less time to figure out what to do with random leftover ingredients.

This website is designed to help minimize your food waste in any of these situations, and more. There are more complex recipes for when you’ve got a full kitchen of other ingredients, as well as bare-bones recipes designed around ingredients you’ve probably got in your pantry. And then there are moments when it seems you should probably throw something out – when herbs start to dry, when scallions get a bit slimy, or when blueberries get wrinkled. But wait! We'll help you determine when an ingredient might look old, but is still completely safe and delicious to eat, along with suggestions and recipes on what you can do with it. For the impressively organized people who manage to cook nearly everything they buy, there are tips for how to use the scraps and bits you still might be throwing out, like carrot tops or kale stems.

Who are we and why listen to us? We co-own a food truck and restaurant in Boston, MA, so we’re used to dealing with food waste on a large scale. Our restaurant, Mei Mei, is certified as a sustainable business and has been recognized for our efforts to cut down on food waste. It’s not just because we’re eco-friendly: in the notoriously difficult restaurant industry, successful businesses track their ingredient costs down to the tenth of a percentage point. If we waste food, we’re throwing away money. From cilantro stems in our curry to yellowed collard greens in our pesto sauce, our cooks strategically use every edible part of a plant or an animal. Beyond the financial incentives, we work closely with farmers and producers throughout the local food system. We see the immense amount of love, care and effort it takes to run their small businesses and produce great food. No one wants to see their efforts go to waste.

Ready to get started? Let's go make sure that all your hard-earned money and all the delicious food you've purchased gets enjoyed instead of getting wasted. 

Mei & Irene