5 Questions with Pete Pearson - Director, Food Loss & Waste - World Wildlife Fund

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What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction? 

Almost 10 years ago I worked for a grocery chain (Albertsons/SUPERVALU) in their IT department. Food was our business, but as an IT professional, I was somewhat removed from the business of selling food. That changed when I decided to enroll in an MBA program that focused exclusively on sustainability through Green Mountain College in Vermont. At the time, it was one the first programs of its kind. After receiving my MBA, my entire outlook on the food system had changed and it educated me on the importance of food, especially as sustainable global resource consumption gains more attention. Food is a nexus for everything: Its production drives and is hindered by climate change; it contributes significantly to the loss of forests, wetlands, grasslands and other habitats, as well as the wildlife that call them home; it accounts for 70 percent of humankind’s total freshwater consumption. It’s also critical socially, politically, and economically. If you can solve problems related to food, you can tackle a lot. Serendipitously, soon after finishing the program, I was hired as a new Director of Sustainability at Albertsons/SUPERVALU. A large part of my role was to improve our store recycling programs, including increasing our food waste prevention, donation and diversion programs. Achieving zero waste has been my full time job and core mission for a while now. I’d say I’m dedicated to waste reduction, whatever form it takes.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you? 

My first inspiration came from Rick Crandall. Rick had worked in retail operations for 30-plus years in southern California and knows the grocery retail work better than anyone. He was an amazing advocate for our zero waste program and single-handedly changed an entire culture of grocery stores in California (Albertsons). He inspired and informed our zero waste program, which he helped to start over 10 years ago. We need more Rick Crandallsin the world!

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

My advice is get the kids involved. My daughter’s chore is the recycling and my son’s chore is the compost bin. Get the schools active. If we don’t get the next generation involved and changing behaviors, then we just postpone the behavior shift that is needed. And as we all know, habits form early. Starting to compost is important because you keep food waste out of landfills and separating it from the trash gives you a better idea of how much food you throw out. That said, it’s important to make a commitment to a prevention-first mindset. We don’t grow food to compost it. Beyond food waste, there is so much in our “throw-away” culture that we really don’t need. Be mindful of single-use disposable items and ask yourself if you really need it. Not using something is far better than recycling. Do you really need that plastic bag?

 What will it take for America to make food waste a priority? 

While not yet a cultural norm and while there is still much to do, I think the wheels of progress are turning. We have big food businesses like Kroger and others making large commitments to end hunger and waste in our communities. We have a national campaign sponsored by the AdCounciland NRDC to reduce food waste. And the EPA and USDA have published goals around food waste reduction. Momentum is building and we’re recognizing this is a problem that can be solved. I’m incredibly optimistic.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

It sounds funny, but when you eat, pause and appreciate your food. Saying a prayer used to be a social norm at the dinner table and we’ve lost that moment of reflection. I think we need to bring that moment of mindfulness back. It doesn’t have to be in a religious or spiritual sense if that’s not your thing, but we all need to take time and appreciate all the sacrifices that our food represents and not take it for granted. Food is a sacrifice of energy, water, and wildlife habitat. Growing food takes an incredible amount of human and environmental energy and money. Wasting it squanders not only those immediate resources, but it puts at risk future resources for all life on this planet.

A Conversation with Chef Chris Ivens-Brown, Chief Culinary Officer - Eurest

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What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

Personally I think its brilliant and long overdue. When I was growing up my mother never wasted anything and, with four growing children and a tight budget, she couldn’t afford to waste anything.

We have lost this thought-pattern over the last few decades, so it’s great that it is being brought back to the forefront. And at Eurest, it ties all of our sustainability efforts into one.

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen? 

Elevate the awareness of every foodservice associate on the importance of being more conscious in food-waste reduction at the source. We provide tools and tips they can easily utilize to address the issue.  

For professional kitchens, it’s all about the ordering--specifically not over-ordering, production and, of course, the menu, the heart of every kitchen. Proper production records and cross-utilization of products are instrumental. For example, our chefs need to be comfortable and creative. For example, try making croutons and garlic bread from scratch using day-old bread.

How about in the home kitchen? 

Essentially, the same rules apply. From an ordering standpoint, when shopping buy only what you’re going to eat. When shopping, I use my mother’s words, “our eyes are bigger than our stomachs” to remind myself to just buy the  ingredients we don’t already have. Menuingin a home is the same, in a way. Map out your meals for the week and cross-utilize ingredients to create balance meals. There are so many things you can do at home to cut back on waste. My 10 Ways To Utilize Food Scraps list gives tips for these and many more. A lot of it is common sense combined with experimentation.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference? 

Think before you throw it out. Remember: there are millions of people in the world who are starving--and we forget that. Decades ago, farmers and peasants alike would make-do with what they had and could afford. A classic dish such as Bouillabaisse (Fish Soup) was made up of leftover scraps from fish--including the bones--marinated with vegetables and seasonings. Other soups and stews such as Gazpacho, Vichyssoise, cassoulet or Brunswick stew were all created to utilize leftover ingredients. 

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers? 

My favorite way would be dehydrating things like tomatoes with orange powder, garlic and thyme. The orange powder comes from a dried orange peel. Olives and grapes are just amazing from a flavor standpoint. And creating them at home is better than buying them premade. Soups, are great for at home utilization of leftovers. Use basic common sense is the best approach. I love doing a hash on the weekends, or from my country “Bubble and Squeak,” which are leftover veggies, potatoes and meat sautéed up in a pan, finished with a fried egg and chees--and a mimosa to wash it down.

A Great Conversation with Sabrina Scheer- Head of Communications Compass Group Germany

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What is your opinion regarding the great deal of attention currently being paid to food waste?

I think it’s great that people are putting a major emphasis on the subject today. There is a certain disregard in throwing away a large portion of one’s own food while people in other places struggle to survive. It also has to do with appreciation. There are more and more initiatives that are actively committed against food waste. I think the app “Too Good To Go”, where surplus food is offered at very affordable prices, is fantastic! The same goes for foodsharing platforms. Food is even distributed for free there.

What are your best tips for reducing the amount of food that goes to waste in the kitchen as simply as possible?

I always put away the newly bought food to the rear of the fridge, the older food towards the front. With fruit that gets mushy, like strawberries, I often make a smoothie or jam out of them.

What is a small change that everyone can put into practice in everyday life in order to make a big difference?

I make a conscious effort when shopping for food. At the supermarket, the art of advertising psychology makes sure that people frequently pack more into the shopping cart than they want – especially when they’re hungry. I prefer regional and seasonal foods because they can’t get damaged by what are often long transport routes from abroad and consequently end up being sorted out.

What are your methods for recycling leftovers and scraps?

I often get my inspiration via ingredient-based recipe searches on the internet. For instance, I recently made an omelette out of potatoes boiled in their skins, courgette and eggs. That way I was able to use up the potatoes and eggs and had a delicious meal for dinner. But my all time favourite is soup made with leftover vegetables! 

A conversation with Stuart Buckner - President of Buckner Environmental Associates, LLC

 Stuart is the Conference Chair for the Annual Composting & Organics Recycling Conference & Food Recovery Forum at WasteExpo.

Stuart is the Conference Chair for the Annual Composting & Organics Recycling Conference & Food Recovery Forum at WasteExpo.

 

1.   What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

For the past 30 years, the focus of my career has been on Organics Management - composting, anaerobic digestion (AD) and organics recycling. Sustainability is at the core of organics management. Emphasis is put on diverting organics, like yard trimmings and food scraps, from landfills to produce renewable energy and compost that create high-quality soil amendments for growing healthy plants and crops. 

To broaden the scope of this work, I’ve developed large-scale conferences that unite industry experts to discuss these issues and provide solutions. The Food Recovery Forum was created to compliment my client’s Organics Recycling Conference at WasteExpo (Penton Media, now Informa). Now in its third year, the Food Recovery Forum focuses on Solutions to Food Waste Prevention, Reduction & Recovery. (Editor’s Note: Compass Group’s Amy Keister will be speaking)

2.   Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I have many food waste heroes who have inspired me through their dedication to solving the various food waste issues that are prevalent in this country. These include many of the leaders of charitable, nonprofit, academic, private and public sector organizations who are doing great work on a local, regional, and/or national stage. Just look at this year’s Food Recovery Forum Program (track 2), and for the past two years, for the names of some of my food waste heroes.

3.   What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

Paying more attention to buying what we need, using what we buy, and giving anything that is not being used to our local food bank.

4.  What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

It will take a greater understanding of the needs and better education at the consumer level.  In addition, it will take an even greater commitment, increased education and funding at every level of government.

5.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Plan well. Buy only what you need and use what you buy. Regardless, there will always be pre- and post-plate food waste that cannot be salvaged, so make sure these materials are used to generate renewable energy and compost to build healthy soils

A conversation with Alice Woodwark - Managing Director, Restaurant Associates - UK

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What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

Food waste only really becomes visible once you see the kind of figures we, as a UK population, are throwing away. Once you are made aware of this fact, it is difficult not to become personally invested in the issue. We recognise that as a company we also need to reduce our food waste. We’ve already introduced a number of measures to tackle this issue and as our target to reduce our food waste by 10% by 2020 shows, it remains at the very top of our agenda.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

We have an amazing team at Wellcome Trust who have done the business proud in the way they have adopted the technology of Winnow Solutions--a smart-scale system which weighs food waste and produces detailed reports on what is being wasted and where in the foodservice process. Particular praise must go to Claire Adams, Contract Manager on site, for embedding the technology so well in the kitchen. I believe the whole kitchen team deserve the highest of praise. Reducing food waste by 70% is an incredible achievement, one that even caught the eye of esteemed food critic Charles Campion when he visited the site to taste the delicious ‘rejuvenated’ (utilising unused ingredients) menu.

What change have you made, personally, to be more mindful of food waste?

In the past, I believe we have all probably been guilty of overindulging in portion size. I now make a conscious effort to buy slightly less food so that I do not overeat or leave food uneaten on my plate--two scenarios which I am sure we are all familiar with.

What will it take for the UK to make food waste a priority?

I believe there has already been a substantial shift in perception of food waste. Take for instance the Courtauld 2025 Commitment to cut food waste by 20%, which has now collected 136 signatories, Compass Group included. There is still a lot we can do collectively as a nation, but the signs are there that the message is taking hold.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

One of the most important steps someone can take to reducing their personal food waste is to simply plan ahead in a sensible fashion; buying impulse items is a sure way to seeing some of it end up in the bin.

A Conversation with Andy Lansing - CEO, Levy Restaurants

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1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

Anyone who works in hospitality should have a personal interest in reducing food waste. We’re all trying to reduce our costs without sacrificing quality, and the number one best way to do this is by reducing waste. You can truly save an enormous amount of money without sacrificing a single aspect of the guest’s experience, just by being mindful.

 

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I’m on the road constantly visiting our locations, and I am inspired virtually every day by the work our people to do reduce food waste. Whether it’s executive chefs creating new dishes to celebrate underused cuts of meat or produce, line cooks dedicating themselves to getting the most out of every single ingredient, or operators finding ways to repurpose used cooking oil, countless individuals across Levy find ways both big and small to reduce waste every day.

 

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I was raised as a proud member of the clean plate club, so I’ve never been one to let food go to waste. But I also use my role as a leader to encourage Levy to be a true innovator in sustainability. Our locations donate unused food to local food banks and charities, and at the scale at which we operate, that can make a huge impact in both reducing food waste and serving those in need. We’ve also long used recycled products at every possible opportunity, making sure that we’re reducing every kind of waste in our operations.

 

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

While it’s critical for every individual to do his or her part in reducing food waste, companies like Levy and Compass Group have an enormous opportunity to lead the way in our practices, both by setting examples and using the scope of our business to make immediate and significant impacts. When I look at the broader hospitality industry, I see companies in every aspect of the business doing their part to cut food waste. They know it’s not only the right thing to do, but also good business. I’m an eternal optimist, but I think anyone who spends time in our business would be encouraged by where things are headed.

 

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

I think it’s important that we all vote through our dollars by supporting companies that make a commitment to reducing food waste. I’m very proud that Levy and Compass Group share this commitment

5 Questions with Belinda Oakley - CEO, Chartwells K-12

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1. Which non-profit mission do you feel most committed to supporting?

It is my belief that a steady job is the single most important step in a person’s transition out of poverty or distress. That’s why I’ve focused my efforts on building confidence and creating pathways to self-sufficiency for at-risk youth, homeless and low-income individuals. Through volunteer work and mentoring employees, I am proud to be able to ‘be the change’ for those in need of a hand up. 

2. How did you become personally invested?

As a teenager, I personally experienced displacement and at that time, questioned what good the future could hold for me. Since then, ‘there but for fortune’ has always remained top of mind because I know just how close we can be to a change in circumstance. I have been blessed and continue to be blessed by the support of individuals in both my personal and professional life who see more in me than I often see in myself. That belief and support has driven me to aim higher and strive further than I ever thought I could. Now, I’m not only compelled, but am sincerely committed to paying it forward. 

3. What do you do to show your support?

Over the years, I have worked with a number of not-for-profit organizations such as Chrysalis in Los Angeles and Urban Peak in Denver whose missions include supporting low income, homeless or unstably housed, recently incarcerated or recently rehabilitated individuals get back on their feet. Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to volunteer as an employment coach helping individuals in a variety of ways, from getting a suit that makes them feel confident for a job interview, to writing their first resume or practicing for an upcoming job interview. I have also served as a youth mentor and a program instructor for job readiness classes. 

4. Can you share a story when you realized your efforts were making a difference?

As a volunteer with Chrysalis, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with incredible people who were just in need of a second chance – many of whom were housed temporarily on infamous Skid Row. When people learned about my work there, it struck me how easily they would stereotype the individuals in need. Being able to share the facts with friends, families and co-workers made a difference immediately.  75% of people who came to Chrysalis had their high school diploma of GED. 33% were parents with children under the age of 18%. 11% were veterans. One co-worker in particular was so struck by the impact we were making that she too became a volunteer. Secondly, at Chrysalis, when a person  secures a job, they celebrate by ringing the “Success Bell” in the lobby. Standing and applauding that moment of change for individuals I supported will remain with me forever.

5. Why is it important to you to give your time to others?

We all have the opportunity to be the change in someone else’s life and if you’ve experienced the gift of giving back, you know there is no greater feeling. As a mother to a beautiful little girl, it’s also important to me to instill these values and be a role model for service so that she can grow up to change someone’s life!

 

A conversation with GENCER ÜZÜMLÜ - Compass Group Turkey Culinary Director

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What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

Being conscious about food wastage and taking necessary actions not to waste food as an individual, corporate and community is our responsibility to our planet, people and nations which do not have the number of resources available to us.

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional and home kitchen?

Proper planning in all aspects of production and operation is the key to minimize or stop food wastage. Success in planning the menu, staff and purchasing will definitely minimize or end the food waste. I would say proper planning will help a lot in the home kitchen as well.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Considerate and responsible purchasing and well-planned menus will lead to proper cooking and consumption. Think twice before planning, buying and cooking.

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

I like to use leftover vegetables and herbs as flavouring agents for my roasts. I also cook a lot of purees and soups with whatever is left in the fridge.

5 Questions with Jessica Rainbolt - Communications Specialist

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1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I spent half my childhood on a farm in Nebraska. Because my family was putting a lot of work into the food we were eating, I was a little more aware of when it was wasted. Last year, I started working for Compass Group as the company was kicking off the first annual Stop Food Waste Day. The team’s passion around food waste reduction inspired me to pay closer attention to my contribution to the waste problem. I realized that even though I grew up in a family that cared a lot about food, I wasn’t doing all that I could to stop food waste. That awareness pushed me to make changes in my shopping and eating habits. I love that I work for a corporation that cares so much about the well-being of the planet; it’s contagious! 

2.  Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

My mother is the biggest food waste warrior I know. She developed a food allergy later in life that requires her to be extremely cautious about prepared foods. For that reason, she makes everything from scratch--from preparing her own deli meat and broths to homemade pasta and bread. She puts so much time and effort into each meal, she doesn’t waste any of it. She freezes veggie scraps and bones to use in her broths and stocks. She repurposes leftovers so effectively, you’d be surprised you ate that meal already. One of my favorite transformations was from this past Thanksgiving’s leftovers. She turned the turkey and stuffing into delicious nachos—a completely different meal using the ingredients from a meal we ate the day before. Even if I wanted to, it would be almost impossible to waste food around her because a lecture about how many ways you can use asparagus stalks will immediately follow.

3.  What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I’ve started taking more trips to the grocery store. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables, but they don’t last. Growing up in a large family, I was trained to buy in bulk. But since I’m typically cooking much smaller meals for myself, my veggies would often go bad before I got the chance to enjoy them. It takes a cognizant effort to plan my meals for the week and shop only for what I need for the next few days. Now, I plan meals around the fresh ingredients I have left in the fridge and avoid consuming any frozen items until the fresh ones are gone.

4.  What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

It’s all about awareness. Because we live in a world of abundance, we often times forget how much work goes into everything we eat. From the amount of resources it takes to grow a single avocado and the work farmers put into the food we purchase, to the number of people hungry or food-insecure here in America and around the world, those numbers should remain top-of-mind. From the impact on our environment to our wallets, the food waste problem effects every single person. With awareness, people are becoming even more passionate about the food waste problem. That passion will eventually result in common sense legislation around food waste and create positive food habits for all of us.

5.     What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?  

Stop living by expiration dates. I lecture my friends all the time when I see them throwing out eggs or milk just because of the date on the carton. The “sell by” and “use by” dates have been around so long, we’ve been conditioned to live by them. You’ll know when milk is bad. You can test eggs before cracking them open to see if they’ve gone bad. If you find you are throwing out the same foods every time, adjust your shopping habits accordingly.

A Conversation with Zsa Zsa Soffe - Compass Group Communications Manager

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What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

I think it’s long overdue. It’s great that we’re seeing a focus on such an important topic.  I grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe where we were very self-sufficient--picking vegetables daily from our garden. Not much ever went to waste.  Plus, I’ve seen extreme poverty in countries like Zimbabwe and India where many survive on just one meagre (meager) meal a day.  As someone who loves to cook, I am acutely aware of the waste I sometimes create so I am trying every day to turn this awareness into tangible action to reduce my own food wastage.  Working for Compass Group has given me that added push! 

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the kitchen? 

Don’t buy too much! Check your shelves and your fridge and make a list before going to the supermarket.  Don’t get carried away ordering groceries online that you don’t need. Also, consider all parts of the vegetable – most of the bits we throw away are perfectly edible, contain fiber and other nutrients, and are actually delicious.  Keep the leaves from celery and add them to a soup or stew for extra flavour (flavor). Make a pesto using the fronds and stems of a fennel plant. I could go on… 

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference? 

Put on your plate only what you know you can finish.  

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers? 

I love turning leftover rice into a tasty new meal.  When I have leftover cooked rice, the next day I fry off onions, garlic and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge – peppers, celery, carrots, mushrooms, fennel. I add touch of chili – add some fresh chopped tomatoes. Then the rice and lots of fresh herbs and seasoning and bingo: I have another tasty and healthy meat-free meal-- equally yummy eaten cold as a packed lunch. 

5 Questions with Bobby Kutteh - CEO, Compass One Healthcare

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1.       What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

Having been involved with World Vision, The Salvation Army and volunteering at a number of soup kitchens over the years, I am constantly reminded of the many hungry and starving people. It hurts my heart to see so many people in need, especially when the amount of food waste that goes on in our country is so outrageous. Now I have a platform to really make a difference, and I am touched by how our Morrison accounts are reducing food waste. I’ve seen first-hand how they are partnering with our customers to set up food donation programs in our communities. It’s humbling and inspiring, and makes a large difference to so many.


2.       Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I am especially proud of our Morrison Mission Health team in Asheville, NC. Their Food Waste efforts and the hugely successful Food Recovery program with the Asheville Poverty Initiative have been remarkable. We’ve also provided our operators with great tools and expertise to help them along the way, which reflects the awesome power and collaboration that’s being leveraged across Compass Group. My hope is to continue to broaden our reach to many more communities that we serve.

 
3.       What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

My wife and I are doing a few small things, such as being more intentional about weekly meal planning and grocery lists. We also try not to go grocery shopping when we’re hungry, and ask about portion sizes when ordering at a restaurant so we can split entrées.   


4.       What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

I believe the majority of Americans are caring people. Building and sustaining healthy communities in our country and stopping food waste should be of significant importance to most everyone. This is a big challenge and unfortunately, not something that will go away with a flip of a switch. We need more food providers and food companies, as Compass has, to make it a corporate priority and part of its culture.


5.       What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

We’re all moving so fast every day and time is precious for everyone. But make it a habit to view the food you prepare and serve at home as a limited resource, and be smart about your portions and leftovers. There are so many good ideas for using leftover vegetables or protein – get creative! It doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference, just some good old-fashioned planning and mindfulness, and of course, a caring spirit.

5 Questions with Chris Cochran - Executive Director of ReFED

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1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

After college, I was living and working in Honduras with small farmers. I saw how much goes into producing our food. Later working in grocery retail, I witnessed the waste throughout the supply chain. It seemed like such a shame to just throw food away. It also felt like a highly solvable problem with a lot of progress to be made. It's one of the few issues I’ve worked on that has such broad-based support and a wide-range of benefits financially, environmentally and socially.

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

My grandma was born in a generation where you did not waste. It is a natural part of who she is. She knows how to find a use for everything in her kitchen and always makes sure to use leftovers.  This is the result of coming out of a generation so affected by the Great Depression and a time where food was scarce. In an age of abundance, we have lost this mentality, but she is inspirational to me in the way that I view food waste.

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I do meal planning, create a list, and go grocery shopping with it. This means I only purchase what I know I will eat. I also think carefully about how hungry I am before ordering food. I often split dishes depending on my level of hunger.

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

The first step in solving the problem is admitting we have one.  Then we need to face food waste as an opportunity. There is also a lot to be learned through observing our practices at home or in the workplace. You can learn a lot simply by taking a look at what you throw away.

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?  

I think everyone can make sure they purchase food based on what they need and will actually consume, rather than over-purchasing.

 

A Conversation with Laura Moore - Waste Warrior

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What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

It certainly woke me up! As routine recyclers, I thought my family was made up of waste warriors – but then I realized how much more we can do.  Now that food waste is on my radar, I see opportunities for reduction everywhere.

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the kitchen? 

Keep a sealable bag in the freezer and toss all the bits and pieces from your produce that don’t make it into your dinner.  We add everything to the same bag: skins of onions, ends of carrots, zucchini and squash, stems from herbs, leaves from celery and, a recent addition, the rinds from cheese.  When the bag fills up, we sauté all the pieces and then add water to make stock.  It’s so easy and makes me feel I-just-won-the-gold proud! 

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Inspire others.  I include my kids as much as possible in testing out new creation with our leftovers.  We put the music on, call it our “Kitchen Lab” and have fun. Whenever we have a new discovered success, we share it with our friends and encourage them to do something similar in their kitchen.

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?  

Soup is my go-to move.  Once a week it’s just so easy to chop up everything that’s still in the fridge, toss it in a pot and turn it into something delicious.  But I started to stretch my newfound culinary wings by upcycling leftovers into tacos, omelettes, pasta sauces and a household favorite: Mexican Surprise. It’s a little different every time we make it, but no surprise it’s always a hit!  

A Conversation with Shelley Roberts, Managing Director Compass Group - Australia

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What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction? 

It is estimated that around 3 million tonnes (tons) of food is wasted every year by the commercial food sector in Australia.  As the leader of the largest foodservice provider in the country I believe we can make positive change. Not only is food a valuable resource, but wasted food also costs the business millions of dollars a year. So we have environmental and financial incentives to tackle the problem.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you? 

Tomas Moonie is our Executive Chef at Melbourne Zoo.  He and his teams (also at Werribee Zoo) are really passionate about environmental sustainability and have reduced food waste by 40% over the past 6 months – which is phenomenal!  He has been a real advocate for reducing food waste within our business – sharing useful tips with other sites. These really focus around good planning: checking what customer numbers are forecast and ordering food accordingly; creating specials out of left overs; keeping soon-to-expire items toward the front of shelves and always checking stock before placing orders. 

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

When entertaining at home I used to feel like I needed to over-cater in order to impress my guests. Now that I understand more about the impact food waste has on our planet, I am proud to get it “just right.” A clean plate rather than loads of leftovers is a sign of success to me!

What will it take for Australia to make food waste a priority? 

Australians are very environmentally conscious and the work of food charities like OzHarvest has done a great deal to raise awareness of food waste in recent years.  Last year, the Australian Government hosted a Food Waste Summit to discuss ways of combating food waste and setting targets into the future - so the issue is certainly on the public agenda.  Globally, our business has a Stop Food Waste initiative, which raises awareness of food waste and provides our sites with a range of tools and resources.  When I visit our sites I always discuss strategies to reduce food waste and am impressed by how passionate our people are about being more environmentally sustainable in our operations.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Don’t go shopping when you are hungry! Plan what you are going to eat in advance. It will reduce the amount of food you waste and save you time and money too.

5 Questions with Tony McDonald - CEO, Eurest

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1.       Which non-profit mission do you feel most committed to supporting?

There are really two: young kids--more specifically coaching boy’s youth sports--and looking after the elderly. It really looks to both ends of life’s spectrum. On one end, you have young men, so full of dreams, potential and energy, who are in some critical formative years of their lives and the other end, the elderly who are facing the challenges of aging, ailing health, loneliness and despair. Essentially, I feel compelled to help those that are having a hard time helping themselves and working to bring some hope, smiles and happiness to their lives. With aging parents and friends my focus on the elderly has amplified recently but I have been involved with youth athletics most of my adult life.

2.       How did you become personally invested?

As a young man, I was deeply involved in sports and for a time it was my world - a top priority. I remember so many great men who coached me as a young kid and through high school who had such a profound effect on me--not just developing me as an athlete, but helping me become a better human being. I was so fortunate and learned so much about life from those men who coached me, they cared about the game and the sport but more importantly they cared about me as a person. I have two great sons who I had the pleasure to coach for many years. These are some of the most rewarding years of my life. I felt like I made a positive impact on their lives. It was more than just sports. Many of these kids came from difficult situations, and many needed some direction in their lives. Sports provided that outlet where they could escape, be part of something special, gain some confidence, smile and often times improve and excel. It meant so much to me as a kid I wanted to give back and try to do my part in helping develop great young boys into great young men.

3.       What do you do to show your support?

Unfortunately, there is no time to coach anymore, but I still like to support youth sports. I worry at times that youth sports continue to fade and that kids’ perception of sports is what they see on TV and ESPN. Kids need the dedication and time of great role models who can not only teach the game but help teach them about life. The minds and hearts of young kids are what are at stake here. I still like to support fundraising for youth sports, especially for those communities or families that can’t afford to make it happen.  I can’t resist to hobble out of my car in my suit when I get home to throw the ball around or shoot some hoops with a neighborhood kid. To see that smile is worth the aches and pains the next day!

4.       Can you share a story when you realized your efforts were making a difference?

I was in the Boston airport not long ago when young man named Brian approached me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hey, Coach McDonald.” I had not seen Brian in probably ten years and there he was: all grown up, starting a career, married and a kid on the way. Despite that he still called me “coach.” He went on to say what a great experience he had with me and we spent the next 15 minutes reminiscing and telling stories about the great couple of seasons we had together on the ballfield. Brian said those couple of years together with that team helped prepare him for growing up, learning some life lessons and developing relationships with his teammates that still exist today. He said those years were some of most cherished times of his childhood and hopes that his children can experience something like that one day. Pretty cool!

5.       Why is it important to you to give your time to others?

Well, time--to me--is the great equalizer. We were all created with different talents and skills; we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, different beliefs, and priorities. We also come from various educations and socio-economic conditions. The one thing we all have in common, however, is that everyone is only given 24 hours each day. The differentiator is how we choose to use that time. I believe it is perhaps our most precious asset, can never be replenished or renewed - we can’t go to the mall and buy some more time. Because of this, I feel it is the most impactful way to show others you care. Without question there are many people that can benefit from our talents and treasure, but the lasting effect of just spending time with someone--a young child or an elderly person--never fades. It stays embedded in their hearts and minds forever. Sending a check, gift or flowers can create a smile, but soon after can fade or be forgotten. My sense is spending time with people, ignoring our phones for a stretch, really focusing on another person in need, and making them feel like they are the most important person in your life is the most important and impactful thing you can do for someone.

 

A Conversation with Jesse Hocker - Business Excellence, Consumer Engagement

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What got you involved in stopping food waste?

Believe it or not, it was watching an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  He did a fantastic show about the impact of food waste, the misconceptions around donating food and how easy it is to make a change.   It is definitely must-see television for anyone who is interested in getting involved.  His piece was well-written with staggering numbers and a really simple directive: Go do something about it! Luckily for me, I work in the industry for a great company and with amazing colleagues that are willing to be part of the solution!

How do you reduce food waste at home in your kitchen?

The secret is shopping at regular intervals and ALWAYS making a list.  I also look at my calendar to make certain that when I am traveling the refrigerator is bare.  Restaurants and organizations like Compass Group do a great job keeping their waste low because they are financially incentivized to do so.  They also have a ton of programs and resources in place to help them reduce waste.  The average shopper doesn’t realize how much food and money they are personally dumping into the local landfill.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Honestly, do a Google search regarding food waste and look at the numbers.  The amount of resources wasted by the average home is shocking and broad reaching.  If you want to combat global warming, gas emissions, stop wasting water and other natural resources – Stop Wasting Food!

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

Really simple and delicious ways to get rid of leftovers are the classic breakfast omelets / frittatas.  Basically, take everything in your refrigerator, toss it in a skillet and add eggs.  It is really hard to mess up and always turns out fantastic.

5 Questions with Chef Trevett Hooper, Legume Bistro

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1.       Using one ingredient/product that gets 100% utilization as an example, tell us how that ingredient travels through your kitchen, and the different places it ends up?

We use the cobs from fresh corn to make stock in the summer months. It has a great flavor and a natural sweetness that lends itself to many applications, especially vegetarian.  To make it, we just boil leftover corncobs from which the kernels have been removed--no other aromatics. 

We use the corn stock in corn soup, to replace water in polenta and corn grits. 

Another thing is pickle brines, which we use in cocktails, braises, sauces, and vinaigrettes. 

2.       What ingredient(s), for example, would most be surprised to learn has gone from bin to menu?

I mentioned this in the meeting, but I can't stress enough how wonderful chicken schmaltz is. After we skim chicken stock of impurities during the first 30 minutes of so, we skim the fat off the top and use it like we would use canola oil to sauté all of our meat and poultry proteins in. Replacing purchased canola oil with something that we used to go out in the oil barrel has saved us a lot of money. 

3.       How did you go about engaging and inspiring your employees towards your sustainability vision?

I write a monthly newsletter which I share with my guests and my staff. It is mostly about what goes into the food behind-the-scenes, the relationships with our farmers and stories about local foods. The regular distribution of the newsletter has been very valuable for us in terms of shaping the narrative about our restaurant. 

4.       What did you find was the number one cause for waste in the kitchen and how did you address that?

I mentioned in the meeting that our #1 waste was staff meal, and that we addressed it by paying more attention to how much we were making.  We also worked on making staff meal better every day, which also reduced leftovers because people were more excited to eat it!

5.       How do you creatively utilize and re-purpose leftovers?

My best approach to leftovers involves understanding the value of having dual concepts, high-end and low-end close to each other.  For example, being able to have an outlet for broken portions that might not work on a high-end menu, but can get shredded into a ragout to be served over pasta at a more casual spot next door. 

 

A Conversation with Justin Williams, Executive Director - Morgan Stanley

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What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I lived in Asia for over 20 years and during that time I experienced the mass consumer demand with the disposable attitude of the early 1990’s. Among other things, this left us with beaches and seas full of waste causing us to go further afield to be able to find clean places just to go swimming. This encouraged me to participate in and drive recycling and waste reduction programs. I was personally thrilled when, years later, we were able to eliminate all disposables from our food services and pantries in offices across Asia. Now that I am in America, I am trying to move our services away from disposables and promote recycling, at the same time we continue to monitor and refine our food production to reduce waste.

I believe that it is important for you to be able to make an emotional connection with your audience as people are more responsive.

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

Not over-shopping. We all can get carried away, especially when we are food shopping while hungry! I really think about the meals I am planning for, so that we don’t have food going to waste. It is easy to buy food on promotion, but if you aren’t going to be able to eat it all, you are just throwing money away.

What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

Cost. Only when it hits people in the pocket will things change. That’s when it personally impacts them. It is too easy for people to turn a blind-eye to this or say it has no effect on their lives, but if there is a financial cost, people will take notice.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Look for products that don’t use wasteful packaging and say no to disposables when you can. No to plastic bags, no to disposable cutlery with your take-out food. If you must use disposables, be sure to recycle them; it really isn’t that hard to find a recycle bin.

5 Questions with Chef Ed Brown - Restaurant Associates

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1.   What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?
I think it’s terrific. This is something where everyone can actually make a difference. People need this information and education to understand the massive amount of food wasted and how that negatively effects our planet. Armed with this information, we can make informed and painless choices and easily make a big impact.

2.   What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen? Elevate the awareness of every food service associate on the importance of being more conscious of reducing food waste at the source--and what they can do to address the issue.  
The easiest, and most common-sense way to reduce food waste is to buy less food--seriously! I constantly challenge our chefs who tell me they use 50 lbs. of a product every two days to order 40 lbs. and let me know what happens. Ninety percent of the time, the answer is we now buy 20-30 lbs. less per week, which is a huge reduction in waste potential--not only because you bought less of one thing, but because you will sell more of the products you have without necessarily reducing variety. My motto: until you are on the brink of running out, you have too much. And, of course, there is the added financial benefit to purchasing less food!

3.   How about in the home kitchen?
At home, think carefully when at the grocery or market. Consider what you might have thrown away last week. Question yourself when you are enticed by those gorgeous strawberries: when will I actually eat them? Will I even be home in the next few days to eat them? If you do buy them and they are getting on the older side, make the effort to utilize them. Make a smoothie or cook them with a pinch of sugar for five minutes and keep in the fridge; it’s great on toast or with ice cream. The possibilities are endless! And I think I have an idea for my next cookbook…

4.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
BE AWARE! Just consider what you buy: utilize it to the absolute fullest and look at what you throw away.

5.   What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?
I’m a huge fan of making pastas or omelets with a wide range of ingredients. One of my favorites was a Caesar Pasta (See Below) that I featured on TODAY show.  I had ingredients for the salad but not really enough for a full dinner, so I made into a pasta dish that was outstanding!

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A Conversation with Danielle Nierenberg - Food Tank President & Founder

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What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

It’s a massive problem, both domestically and internationally, but has so many exciting solutions.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I’m inspired by farmers in fields around the globe who are coming up with innovative ways to prevent post-harvest losses without much support from governments or research institutions and also what women farmers are doing to preserve and add value to food—including making vegetable powder for soups and other foods in Mali and making dried mango and fish in The Gambia.

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I travel all the time so I try to both not overbuy and use all of the perishable food or freeze it before I leave.

What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

What I like so much about this issue is that it is truly bi-partisan—no one is “for” wasting food and no one wants to waste money. You can literally see both eaters and policymakers have an “ah-hah” moment when they realized that wasting food is throwing away money. I think preventing food waste requires us to value food and realize it isn’t as cheap as the price we pay at the grocery store.