Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Big Waste

I love the Food Network. Chopped is my favorite, with many of the other competition shows following closely behind.

Last weekend they aired a special called The Big Waste. It was a cooking competition where Chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon competed against Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli to make a banquet meal for 100 foodies. Sounds simple, right?

Here's the twist: All of their ingredients had to be on their way to the trash.

Not being trashed because they are spoiled but because they aren't sell able. Some of it was produce that wasn't perfect - peaches with a spot or two, tomatoes with some cracks in the skin, cuts of meat that weren't center cut and therefore were less desirable, dairy products a day out from their sell by date, etc.

It was absolutely amazing how much perfectly good food they were able to find that was on its way to the trash can. At an orchard they visited the farmer commented that 40-50% of his crop is thrown away because it gets picked and discarded or just because the consumer doesn't think it's good enough.

I get the argument that as a consumer if I'm buying a product that I have every right to expect it to be a top quality one. But, after seeing just how much fresh, healthy food gets wasted, when there are SO many people who don't have access to healthy food, or any food at all, well, it was pretty shocking and disturbing.

In the end it was an eye opening experience for the chefs and the hundred New Yorkers they cooked for that evening as well, with them saying the experience will lead to changes in how they seek their ingredients. I hope you watch and let it change your perspective too.

Food Network re-airs the show this weekend, Saturday at 4 pm et and Sunday at 5 pm et.

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