Reducing the Foodprint by Eating Misfits
By The Editors
In a previous post, The Foodprint: Eyes on Methane, we talked about the enormous amount of wasted food that ends up in the landfills, where it is decomposed by bacteria under anaerobic conditions (i.e., in the absence of oxygen) and becomes a significant source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas. We concluded the post by saying; “How can we decrease the foodprint? Composting, composting, composting — However, composting works well for food waste that has already been generated. What about changing our mindset and finding ways to reduce the amount of food we waste on a daily basis?”
In this new post, let’s talk about a possible way to change our mindset and reduce the amount of food we waste on a daily basis – let’s talk about “misfit vegetables”.
What are misfit vegetables? They are vegetables, as for example carrots with two or more roots, potatoes in odd shapes and supersized zucchini that, because of their appearance, do not meet the “aesthetic” standards of supermarkets and food stores, are considered unfit for sale and therefore are discarded. However, these misfit vegetables are perfectly healthy and of good quality.
Someone has found a creative way to rescue these misfit vegetables. Lea Emma Rosa Brumsack and Tanja Krakowski, two designers based in Berlin, founded in early 2012 a small start up called “Culinary Misfits”. Culinary Misfits is a catering service that works with local organic farmers. The farmers provide their abandoned misfit harvest at low price, resulting in extra-income for the farmers and in the business raw material for Lea and Tanja.
Culinary Misfits aims at raising awareness of how much food is thrown away. Lea and Tanja create beautiful and delicious dishes using their love for design in the presentation of the misfit vegetables. They want to educate consumers to eat the whole harvest in all its diversity, thus reducing food waste. This is the expression of an emerging movement in Europe that is fighting against the senseless waste of food. Hopefully, this emerging movement will find more and more creative ways to ensure we use the food we produce.
I actually feel as this will not become a problem in the near future. The FDA continually monitors these progressions and recently their rulings on meats and poultry that was approved became more lenient. For example, certain steroids were approved for use in chickens to increase muscle mass and ultimately larger chickens. Lowering the standards can be a health safety scare but at the same time they promote more availability for food sources, and workers cultivating the food. This may not necessarily be a good thing that the regulations are lowered but i feel in the end this is what it will come to.
This is one of the ways to reduce food waste that is being tried in the US: To reduce portion sizes and therefore the amount of food thrown away each day in their cafeterias, some universities have discontinued the use of trays and introduced ‘pay by weight’ schemes and other incentives. One university found that after going ‘trayless’, it discarded almost 13 metric tons less food than in previous years, and conserved over 100,000 litres of water annually. Financial savings amounted to US$79,000 per year.
Wow that is a really interesting way to reduce food waste and save money. Do you now if there are any other school that are implementing the same practices? Also I really do think Culinary Misfits is a unique and creative way to bring about awareness and also decrease the amount of food that is being wasted. Honestly the best way to decline the amount of wasted food is to continue to educate individuals about the serious issue of food waste and also provide them with different ways to prevent it. Some ways people can preserve food are: freeze foods, serve smaller amounts, and use left overs. Although sometimes food waste cannot be avoided, some food waste can be used for others things for example peelings from fruits or vegetables can be used to fertilize a garden.
I had never heard of the term misfit vegetables, but now after thinking about it and realizing what it means I realized I too discriminate against these “different looking vegetables.” I am currentley studying abroad in Europe and I noticed that the food portions here are much smaller than in the US and they don’t ever ask if anyone needs to go boxes. I believe this has to do with the same reasoning of not wasting food or leaving food behind that will just end up in these landfills. The idea of conserving the misfit vegetables and turning them into a culinary masterpiece I think is very creative and applaud these two women who came up with it! I hope that someday in the near future America evolves and becomes more aware of the tremendous amount of food that goes to waste each day and tries to figure out a remedy for this ongoing problem!
When I think of how much food is wasted everyday and how many people go hungry, it both angers and upsets me. The fact that perfectly viable fruits and vegetables are thrown away just because they are slightly deformed in the sense that they look different is ridiculous. You’re not eating the fruit/vegetable for it’s shape, you’re eating it for the taste. I think it’s great to educate consumers and raise more awareness of how much food is actually wasted. Hopefully this movement will make it’s way to the United States.
It’s not like misshaped fruits and vegetables cause genetic mutations for humans. Although good to eat, I imagine that this will be a hard sell for Americans to follow suit, being that we mostly judge by appearance. But ignorance is bliss and profitable as farmers can profit and buyers can save by buying misfit vegetables.
The statistics on this topic are scary. In the US alone, roughly 40% of all edible food goes to waste (Natural Resource Defense Council), yet so many people on our planet go without food every single day. Finding uses for misfit foods through culinary means is a phenomenal idea. Just because something is not as aesthetically appealing, does not mean it lacks any of the nutritional value. Charging people for food wasted on their plate is another great idea. Granted, I think if applied in the US, it would face great rebuttal. However, by charging for wasted food, you are raising awareness. And likely, it will cause people to eat out less, ultimately reducing one outlet that leads to globesity. Other ways we can reduce food waste include making your own compost, giving away the excess you do not use (such as through the EPA’s “Feed Families, not Landfills” campaign), or by only purchasing exactly what you need at the local grocer.
Eating misfits seems like a good strategy to decrease wasting food. There’s different things people can do to prevent wasting food like using your leftovers, serve small amounts, freeze food, and etc. As for the comment above, I never heard of restaurants charging for not finishing your food. Is this really a good idea? Because most people would just take a to-go box to prevent the charge.
It’s crazy that people won’t eat something because of how it looks but they will eat that particular vegetable if it is cut up and the origination is unknown. It is the same exact vegetable, but That goes to show that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. This will allow the misfit strategy to prosper an be a contributing step to reduce the foodprint. In reference to the previous posts, charging for not eating all of one’s food seems to be an extreme tactic, but it will force peopl to consume all of their food which will then decrease waste. One way around this would be to cook and eat at home, but eating out is so convenient that I think cooking would not be a change many Americans would be willing to make.
A little at a time we’ll all learn how to reduce our foodprint. Starting with eating misfits – independent of the beautiful presentation – is one of the first steps. In Europe, some restaurants are now charging if you leave food in your plate, and this is another way to raise awareness. With many little things going on at the same time, hopefully the mindset change will happen quickly.