Pioneering a "No Waste Mindset" in 5 Easy Steps
The Pain of Waste
Food. Waste. Two words no one wants to hear together. Painful to learn about, but if knowledge is power — then its important to know the facts:
And Corona hasn’t helped. Before Corona, about half the food grown in the US was destined for restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks and cruise ships. When those channels abruptly shut down, 50% of our food had no where to go. Lags in the ability to adjust the logistics of food delivery (from wholesale deliveries to restaurants, over to delivering to retail grocery stores and food banks) has caused a huge food glut.
Because of this sudden collapse in the food supply chain, US farmers are being forced to pour dairy down the drain, and plow up to 80% of their crops back into the earth. Experts are predicting the impact could be up to $1.32bn from March to May in US farm losses alone. And yet… there is hope!
Studies show that over 30% of waste happens at the consumer level — in the home! This means that just by educating ourselves, and changing our own behaviors, we can eradicate 30% of food waste right in our own kitchens. Jon Albrecht and Nicolas Reisini, chef team at Organic Home Meal Delivery Start-Up, ‘HonestPlate’ — are gonna show us how…
“I think of us as modern pioneers in adopting the ‘No Waste Mindset,’” says Albrecht. “Once you accept that your ultimate goal will be to leave no waste, you naturally start changing your behaviors — but there are certain easy steps you can take to get started.
1) Educate Thyself Think about the foods you and your family like to eat. When and where are they grown? What is the best time of year to get them locally? What other foods are like them? Could you introduce a new ‘like’ food to your family’s diet? What are the most popular recipes using your favorite foods? What flavors and seasonings work well with them?
Educating yourself about food will help you in choosing the best and freshest foods for your family. More knowledge will give you increased flexibility in your menus, which means more optionality at the grocery store — super important today. Endless sites on the internet will have you speaking foodie in no time at all.
2) Get a New Plan, Stan
We can’t emphasize enough how important menu planning is. And it needs to be careful — and realistic. Think about your coming week and figure out what your food strategy will be — How many sit down diners will you reallyhave? How many nights will people be eating on the go? Which meals will bless you with leftovers? And how many meals will you honestly eat out next week? Make your list while you are standing in your kitchen — no guessing allowed — that’s how waste happens!
3) Love Your Fridge
New research shows that up to 70% of our fridges are too warm meaning that our food is not lasting as long as it could be! Having your food somewhere between 32 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit can help preserve it— especially dairy — for much longer. The fridge is the ideal place to store most of your fruits and veggies. In fact, fruit lasts up to two weeks longer in the fridge — in the package it came in — than out in a fruit bowl. Fruit and veggie packaging has been designed to help them stay fresh for longer, so don’t take the packaging off until you’re ready to eat! Fill your fridge drawers with your fruits and vegetables — that’s what they are there for!
On the top and middle shelves should be dairy, deli meats, wrapped leftovers and packaged foods. The bottom shelves is where your meats, poultry and fish go, (for cleanliness purposes). It’s best not to put bread in the fridge — it goes stale much quicker. Bread keeps better in a cool dark place such as a bread box. Bread also freezes well for use another time.
Bananas and pineapples should be kept cool but don’t refrigerate; and potatoes and onions should be kept out of the fridge, in a cool, dark place like a pantry or your garage. And one last note on your fridge — be sure to minimize door opening! This helps foods to stay at a consistent and optimal temp.
4) Do you “FI — FO”?? An old and undisputed rule in the restaurant industry is “FI — FO: First In — First Out”. It simply means that the order in which you bring foods into your kitchen must be the same order in which those foods are used. Seems easy but bad planning often leaves small stockpiles of food in your fridge. Without being cognizant, it’s easy to skip slightly older food for slightly newer food — ultimately driving potentially large amounts of food pass their ‘sell by dates’. When you are unpacking food, have a black sharpie nearby and clearly mark the expirations so they are easy to see. This will help your commitment to FIFO!
5) Conserve Your Brain Power Always keep your foods arranged in the same place when possible. Through repetition your mind will begin to ‘sense’ when foods are falling below optimal levels — not by counting and/or documenting things so much, but merely through a visual sense. This simple mind trick can save you lots of time and frustration when making lists and doing food planning. The more uniformity you can bring to your food management — the less your brain has to work and the better off for all involved!”
Chef Albrecht is super excited about what the “No Waste Mindset” may be able to achieve. “We always start with a ‘No Waste’ Mindset. Because we are chefs, we know how to use foods in different ways. If we are delivering a broiled brussel sprout dish one week, and find ourselves with too many brussel sprouts — we’re able to get creative — How would they be steamed? Sautéed? In a salad? We make sure we keep very well-versed in being able to combine foods, and use them in different ways to create new dishes. These are the types of things we want to teach our customers, so that they can move as far as they can toward a ‘No Waste’ Mindset as well. Use the Whole Food We also take great pride in using the whole food. All across the country people are cutting off and throwing away too much product. We make sure we are very educated about how all parts of the food we are working with can be used beneficially. Very often we take the stalks and roots of vegetables we are not using and turn them into delicious, healthy soup stocks, or sauces. And of course, when there is just nothing else to do with any type of organic material you are working with — there’s always the compost pile! What better to do with ultimate waste than to re-begin the growth cycle with a garden of your own?”
“The reason I am so excited about what we are doing at Honest Plate is that we are giving our customers the opportunity to eat — and live — almost entirely waste free!” adds Chef Reisini. “At HonestPlate, our portions are intelligent — meaning you usually get exactly what you need. No more and no less. Also, our glass packaging means heating up any HonestPlate leftovers, if needed, is a snap.
It’s really like a perfect storm. At the same time our customers are leaving no waste while enjoying their delicious HonestPlate meals — we are back at the kitchen also working hard at running our business to be waste free. Almost completely removing waste from our kitchen — at scale — gives us a tremendous sense of pride. We look forward to continuing to work with our customers in the fight against food waste. This is only the beginning.”