1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?
According to Paul Hawken, ending food waste is the number three most effective thing we can do to combat climate change. In today's world, many things feel out of our control, but limiting our waste is entirely on us. We can make change every day with our food habits — what we buy, how much we buy, and what we do with the leftovers.
2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?
Dan Barber is my ultimate hero. His wastED pop-up took the concept of "food waste" out of the category of garbage and into the category of fine dining. He showed people that we're not talking about eating trash, we're talking about finding the hidden gems and delicious bites in the things we're mindlessly tossing aside. He made food waste a topic for gastronomes not just environmental advocates.
3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?
My husband and I waste almost nothing. We have two big recycling bins at home, an enormous compost bin, and a tiny garbage bin. We take out the trash (1-2 gallons) once a week. We freeze scraps to make our own stock. We upcycle leftovers. We buy groceries throughout the week to ensure things don't go bad in the fridge.
4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?
At the end of the day, the concept of climate change is hard for many people to wrap their heads around, but saving money is something they can get behind. And feeling altruistic can be a real motivator. We, as a culture, need to make using scraps and eating unusual plant and animal parts cool among "foodies." We also need to make wasting things shameful. Ideally, we'd implement a system in the U.S. like they have in South Korea where people are taxed based on their waste. It makes sense — the more any one person or company wastes, the more municipal money is spent transporting that waste, treating it, and adding it to landfills. We should be taxed based on how much waste we create.
5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
Stop throwing away as much food. Buy only what you know you'll consume. With leftovers, find a way to make them exciting again, or compost them. Ignore "best by" or "use by" dates. Another big thing: Think about the parts of plants and animals you have been taught to throw away. Question that. Why are you throwing out your broccoli stems, cauliflower stems, beet greens, chicken livers or necks? They're perfectly edible and delicious!