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Feel Good Food Policy Food Waste Restaurants

Postmates’ FoodFight! Initiative Aims To Combat Hunger And Reduce Food Waste

Every night in the city of Los Angeles, there’s an estimated 53,000 homeless people that suffer from hunger. Some other disheartening facts about homelessness in LA are that 15% are family units often headed by a single mother and 25% suffer from mental illness.

Further research reveals it to be an epidemic plaguing the second most populous city in the United States. Faced with these staggering statistics, it’s easy to feel helpless. Rent is skyrocketing and neighborhoods are being gentrified as longtime residents are pushed out. With only 1,270 missions and 24 emergency shelters in Los Angeles County, solutions to the homeless equation seem akin to trying to solve time travel.

Despite these facts, I’m of the belief that it’s better to try than to succumb to hopelessness. One brand that shares that sentiment is Postmates. In partnership with Working Not Working and Vice, FoodFight! was launched in February of 2018. FoodFight! is a new initiative started by Postmates to combat hunger amongst America’s homeless population and reduce food waste in the restaurant industry. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance conducted a study in 2014 that found 84.3% of unused food in American restaurants is disposed of, 14.3% is recycled, and only 1.4% is donated.

Los Angeles has fast become one of the most generous contributors to the initiative with 4 of the top 5 restaurants being based within the city. This year, Postmates introduced 41 new cities nationwide to deliver food from participating restaurants to those in need. Emily Slade, Working Not Working’s Head of Growth & FoodFight! Ambassador had this to say:

“If we can eliminate the friction in the donation process by making it as easy as calling Postmates to make the food donation delivery, then we can really make an impact.”

While still in it’s pilot phase, FoodFight! is rapidly expanding as more restaurants are participating nationwide. Although it may not be the end all be all in the fight against homelessness and hunger, FoodFight!’s focus on waste reduction within the restaurant industry is a great step towards improving how we manage our leftover food. As FoodFight! continues to grow, restaurants and non-profits are invited to join the initiative by emailing foodfight@postmates.com.

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Adventures Food Challenges Food Waste Health Restaurants

Here’s What A 10-Year-Old McDonald’s Burger & Fries Looks Like

As the rest of the world experiences a plant-based revolution, Iceland was unknowingly 10 years ahead of the curve. In 2009, due to Iceland’s financial crisis, McDonald’s closed all locations within the country. Increased operational costs were cited as the reason. Anticipating a Mickey D-less Iceland, one curious citizen by the name of Hjortur Smarason decided to purchase the franchise’s final burger and fries in the country. 

Smarason heard rumors about McDonald’s immortal burgers and wanted to see if they were true. Apparently, and strangely enough, they never decompose. Fast forward and today marks 10 years since Smarason purchased Iceland’s last McDonald’s burger and fries. Since then, the only thing that has decomposed is the French fry box. The showcase of the meal’s durability attracts 400,000 daily visitors to an online live stream set up by Smarason. You can watch the burger in a glass cabinet located at Snotra House, a hostel in southern Iceland. It’s claimed that people from all over the world visit to see the burger yearly.

Once upon a time, I used to be able to mash three double cheeseburgers, McChickens and fries in one sitting. Those are great memories, but I couldn’t imagine eating those now. Learning about something like this should make you curious about what’s in your food. Is it even food? One thing is certain, this isn’t the only time someone has tested the shelf life of McDonald’s food. A 1996 experiment by Karen Hanrahan resulted in a 12 year blemish-less hamburger. There have also been a handful of other similar experiments. 

Nevertheless, despite Iceland’s McDonald’s-free nation, the franchise is still a global behemoth. Health awareness is growing and people are becoming more critical of what goes into their bodies. As this happens, massive franchises like McDonald’s are being held more accountable. Hopefully, experiments like this will not only give us a laugh, but also bring about much needed changes to the food industry.

Categories
Animals Culture Food Trends Food Waste Health News Sustainability What's New

The Wagyu Beef of Lamb Is Here, and It’s Trying to Save the Environment

During the Edo Period in feudal Japan, “mottainai” was a way of life. The word, which roughly translates to “what a waste,” represents the idea that everything has a purpose, even things that didn’t immediately seem useful. For example, when the townspeople’s kimonos had turned drab, they were repurposed as futon pads, diapers, and dusters. Once these had become unusable, they were burned and the ashes were sold for various uses. This general focus on maximizing resources permeates throughout Japan to this day, and the phrase mottainai became a popular motif for a Kenyan environmental movement that reached the UN eventually.

The concept revolves around the commonly used three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. But what distinctifies it is an additional, fourth R — respect. Such respect is applied for the Earth, for animals, and for the role they play in our life.

“It’s one of the things I’ve always respected about Japanese culture, that they aren’t so wasteful and that they do value the resources that they have around them,” says Suzannah Moss-Wright, the owner of the Australia-based company Mottainai Lamb, which aims to change the course of the meat industry.

The company, which has been around for four years now, is producing sustainable meat. The first six months of their lambs’ lives are spent on a pasture, grazing on grass. While this is not particularly revolutionary, it’s the finishing weeks where the company makes their mark. Instead of using grain feed to plump up the lamb, as most farms do, Moss-Wright’s company finishes their lamb with a cocktail of unused vegetables. Their finishing feed consists of 80% recycled material from nearby farms: carrots too ugly to sell, carrot tops, carrot pomace, and olive oil sediment. 

And, while this does bring something new to the table, Moss-Wright points out, “One of the big challenges that we face, when we want to innovate, and we want to really disrupt this supply chain and the way food is conventionally produced in this sort of mass commercialized world, is you’ve got to have something that nobody else has.” 

After three years of research and development, they had it. The lamb they produced marbled.

Mottainai Lamb ribs (Photo: Reach Guinto, Foodbeast)

Marbling, a term used to describe the intramuscular fat in a cut of meat’s tendency to look like the white streaks running that run through marble rock, is a sign of quality. The more marbling, the better the meat. Japanese A5 Wagyu beef is famed for its marbling and is considered some of the best in the world. In order to get the A5 distinction, the beef must have an intramuscular fat percentage of above 43.8%. Most regular lamb has an intramuscular fat percentage of a mere 3-5%

Mottainai Lambs have 37%, according to Moss-Wright.

They found that the carrot and olive pomaces, once in the digestive rumen of the sheep, are considered by their body to be partially digested, so it moves through in a third of the time as it normally would. Because of this, the unsaturated fatty acids that cause marbling don’t break down and were absorbed as such.

The result is a prime cut of lamb. Fresh and light, the meat is significantly less gamey than most other lamb. The pungent odor that lamb tends to carry is nowhere to be found. It melts in the mouth, just like A5 Wagyu, very much warranting the $36/lb price point.

This dwarfs the regular pricing of lamb. 

“Great lamb is $12/lb,” chef Jason Quinn of Playground, in Santa Ana, CA, told me for reference. Playground is the only restaurant in California serving Mottainai Lamb.

Mottainai Lamb served as a tartare at Playground in Santa Ana, CA (Photo: Hunter Anderson, Foodbeast)

Not only is the quality to A5 standards, but so is the going rate. This presents a challenge that any growing sustainable meat operation will eventually face. How do you convince people to purchase a premium product that’s made sustainably, when they can get a cut from the feedlot for significantly cheaper?

The problem reflects a question that’s slowly becoming more apparent, one that shifts from lamb and turns toward meat in general: Can we, collectively, change our meat reliant diets? The problem isn’t eating meat, necessarily, it’s how often we eat it.

This small-scale example does not address the climate impacts of meat production. There are certainly better and worse waste to produce meat, but none of them are scalable enough to sustainably meet current demand.” says Jennifer Molidor, sustainability writer and Senior Food Campaigner for the Center of Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmentally focused nonprofit.

Places like McDonald’s wouldn’t be able to meet their demand, which is close to 75 hamburgers per second, if they were to try to do it sustainably. Massive, wasteful farms are the only way we can meet this demand. 

Factory farms are immense patches of land where animals are kept in captivity and fed fattening grain and hormones until they’re plump. They’re also where, uncoincidentally, 99% of American’s meat comes from, according to a study done by the Sentience Institute. 

The results of these farms are damning. It’s estimated that livestock production accounts for around 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, those producing animals that use a rumen to digest food, mainly cows and sheep, are even worse for the environment as these animals naturally excrete methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses for our environment. While this may not be concerning on an animal by animal level, with the amount of these animals being produced, it certainly adds up. It’s estimated that, in western countries, each person needs to cut their intake of nearly every animal product by over 50% in order to prevent any further damage from occurring.

But most people don’t envision the ramifications of their shopping choices when they walk into the store and see pounds of ground meat on the shelf. They only see the finished product. A disconnect has formed. It’s slowly withering away with the introduction of plant-based beef, the rise of vegetarianism/veganism, and the increase in grazing farms, but it’s still very much there–  and Moss-Wright intends to change that.

“[The supply chain]’s not respecting animals, it’s not respecting farmers, it’s not respecting the environment, and we’ve got to turn that around,” she said. 

Seeing this, Moss-Wright decided that the company needed a fifth R, in addition to the aforementioned four R’s of mottainai, to properly describe their mission. Reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, and reconnect. 

To institute this, Mottainai Lamb takes a hands-on approach to their distribution and growth by personally visiting chefs that buy their product with their distributor, Trex. This pushes a platform of transparency between the consumer, the distributor, and the grower, with the intent to shift the culture towards this. 

Unopened racks of Mottainai Lamb ribs along with their authentication (Photo: Reach Guinto, Foodbeast)

“I believe that chefs are ready for that, they’re really looking for that connection now and consumers are wanting that connection,” stated Moss-Wright.

And she’s right, chefs like Jason Quinn are ready for the change, and they’re actively practicing it.

“I preach a lot that, in this restaurant, if you work here, you can’t just be a person that thinks that steak is special and peas are not. Every single ingredient that hits the plate has the ability to be special, to change someone’s mind, to be the highlight of the night. And if you’re ignoring vegetables because they’re on the side for meat dishes, then you’re just wasting a lot of time at this moment,” he declared. 

But, those working in restaurants such as Quinn’s aren’t the people that need convincing. That would be the general population. Information regarding the concerning nature of the meat industry is abundant. It’s still going to be hard to convince an entire population to kick a meat-reliant diet after generations of eating that way. As with most addictions, there’s a dissonance. 

People believe what they see, though. The hope is that if chefs, like Quinn, start serving less meat and more vegetables as their main courses, and pushing transparency in the sourcing of their ingredients, then people would grow used to this and come to expect it everywhere.

Quinn brings up revolutionary Australian restaurant Saint Peter, where Chef John Niland is able to use 90% of each fish that’s consumed. Quinn says Americans wouldn’t be ready for this, and points towards Australia’s older restaurants that were serving out-of-the-box dishes years ago, giving the same culture a curiosity it needs to make Niland’s creations, like a crispy barbot stomach sandwich, a hit.

By applying that logic, and the fifth R, to their mission, Mottainai Lambs hopes to help inspire the needed cultural shift. They’re aware that they can’t do it all at once. It’s a process to tear down such a large system, and inspire others to do the same.

“You know, what we’ve done, in terms of risking everything, investing in R&D, and taking on a food supply chain and really trying to disrupt it and innovate it, it’s not easy to do. But, if I break the wind, then other people can ride my wake,” Moss-Wright points out. “It takes a lot of distance — what was it, 17 nautical miles to turn a ship around? —  so it’s not going to happen overnight. But we’ve got to stop turning this ship because we don’t have a second chance with this.”

Mottainai Lamb’s blueprint is by no means an end-all-be-all solution for sustainable meat production. It’s a needed step in the right direction in an industry that so badly needs to take that step. And, while yes, the meat is utterly prime, it’s the premise of others in the same area of business taking note, and following suit in addressing better sustainability options, that’s truly exciting. 

Categories
Food Waste News Sustainability What's New

You Can Now Help Fight Hunger By Ordering DoorDash

Yesterday, DoorDash, the nation’s leading on-demand food destination, announced that, from September 17-30, they will donate $1 to Feeding America for every order placed that uses the promo code FEEDAMERICA in honor of Feeding America’s annual Hunger Action Month.

According to the press release, each dollar allows Feeding America, a nationwide nonprofit that fights hunger and food insecurity, to secure another 10 meals from their local food banks. In addition, each DoorDash user who donates to the cause will receive a promo code for $5 off their next order as a thank you note.

By getting their millions of users so directly involved in the company’s donation, DoorDash seems to hope that the issue strikes a chord in each individual customer, producing a greater effect than simply donating the money en masse to Feeding America would.

This comes on the back of a hectic couple of months for DoorDash, as the company came under fire after it was revealed that any tips were essentially being sent to DoorDash and not the driver. This policy was immediately changed after the backlash.

Despite this, it seems DoorDash is on the right track. With their workers properly compensated, the company moved on to announce that its social impact program, Project DASH, has rescued over a million pounds of food from being wasted.

As DoorDash looks to increase its presence in the fight against hunger, this partnership with Feeding America make sense. The nonprofit’s goal with Hunger Action Month, which is an event that has taken place every September for the last 11 years, is to increase hunger awareness and action regarding the issue. It encourages any and all ways of raising awareness, from individually posting on social media to larger campaigns, such as DoorDash’s.

If you would care to get involved with Feeding America’s cause, go ahead and eat in tonight by ordering with DoorDash. You can also donate to Feeding America directly, right here.

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Food Waste Grocery Hacks

5 Foods You Should Never Store In The Fridge

Photo: So Delicious

When it comes to the fridge, it seems to be a vault where all tasty things are kept safe until we are able to consume them. But do all foods belong there? There are some items you should never refrigerate, and we’ll tell you which right now.

Some foods actually belong in the pantry and should not be left in the cold (of the fridge). I will give you one before I start out my list: bread. One of my giant pet peeves when it comes to putting things in the refrigerator is bread. One of my former roommates used to do that and it drove me insane. And it wasn’t the only thing like that she did. But I am getting off track here.

It’s time to find out what you should never refrigerate, but what to do with those items instead.

5 foods you should never refrigerate

1. Bread

Like I said above, I cannot stand the taste of bread that’s been stored in the refrigerator. The cold experience completely ruins the taste of the bread and takes away a lot of its moisture. Sure, refrigerating tends to make the bread last longer, but at what cost? If you are going away for the weekend or for some reason you need to store the bread to last longer, then wrap it in plastic and keep it in the freezer. Then toast it straight from the freezer when you’re ready to eat.

Foods to Never Refrigerate and Why
For the sake of all that is good and holy, don’t refrigerate bread.

2. Avocados

If you’re eating a lot of avocado toast, maybe we shouldn’t lecture you about the proper way of storing avocados.  You are probably already keeping them out of the refrigerator. Cold temperatures tend to ruin the fruit’s texture and lovely flavor. That is if it’s still intact. If you’ve already cut it in half, then you’d better keep it in the refrigerator. But only for a day, before it will undoubtedly go bad.

3. Potatoes

Potatoes have no business being kept in the refrigerator and that has to do with chemistry. When you keep them in the cold, the starch that is in them tends to break down and ruins their texture and taste. But how should you store them? Pick a cool, dark place in your kitchen and stick them in there. They will keep for a long time and many mashed potato meals.

4. Honey

Has your honey been crystallizing and you’re stumped as to why? Well, odds are that you’ve been keeping it in the refrigerator, where it doesn’t belong. Low temperatures are the reason your honey changes its consistency, from smooth and viscous to grainy and with a nastier taste. Take your jars out of the fridge and place them in the pantry, stat! But also, don’t forget to seal them properly.

Foods to Never Refrigerate and Why
If you store your honey in the fridge, it will end up crystallizing and losing its texture.

5. Tomatoes

Putting tomatoes in the refrigerator is like a death sentence… for flavor. Yeah, sure, that sounds pretty dramatic, but exposing your beautiful red, meaty and ripe fruit to cold temperatures really destroys their flavor. Keep your tomatoes in a cool, dark place. But if they’re about to go bad, then try to turn them into something else: a sauce for pasta, perhaps?

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Article by Ruxandra Grecu from So Delicious. View the original article here.

Categories
Food Waste Grocery Hacks

10 Foods You Shouldn’t Throw Away Just Yet

Photo: So Delicious

Do you usually get rid of leftover bread, cheese, and chicken bones? Don’t do that anymore! There are some foods you shouldn’t throw away, because you can still use them to make tasty things in the kitchen!

Unfortunately, I’m used to throwing food. Not only what remains on the plate, but also the cheese that starts to smell tangy, bones, stalk and roots I don’t use when I cook vegetables. I’m used to getting rid quickly of all the things I don’t eat; I don’t like to see and keep them all around because, sooner or later, they still end up in the trash. But, since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to reduce my expenses, I did some quick research and I figured out how wrong I was. Because there are many foods you shouldn’t throw away, but you totally should use for your future recipes. I thought you may want to know which are the most common foods you shouldn’t throw in the trash, so I’m sharing this with you.

10 foods you shouldn’t throw away

1. Chicken bones

If you happen to buy bone-in chicken pieces – breast and thighs – but you want to cook only the meat, don’t throw away the bones! Save them to make stock. Chicken stock can also be made with chicken meat, but why not cook the meat in a different way and just use the bones?

If you have enough bones, you can boil them right away and keep the stock for later use. If you don’t have enough bones, pack them and keep them into the freezer until you accumulate enough to make a batch and have the time to make the stock.

2. Cheese rinds and leftover cheese

Fromage fort is the solution for your leftover cheese. Fromage fort is the French term for ‘strong cheese’, and it’s a cheese spread made by blending in the food processor together pieces of different leftover cheeses (hard and soft) with white wine, garlic, and various herbs. It helps you get rid of those scraps of cheese you have in the fridge. You can also add your cheese leftovers on pizza or, if you have parmesan rinds, you can add them to boiling soup or pasta sauce.

3. Bacon grease

My grandparents used to cook with lard. I’m not sure when and why I gave up on using grease in cooking. After frying some bacon, I’m in a hurry to throw away all that grease, instead of storing it. What a pity! Saving the grease left from cooking a batch of bacon is a great way to add flavor to future dishes. It seems some of our ancestors’ habits are good to keep even now, in the ‘healthy eating era’.

Use bacon grease when you make pasta, or you roast vegetables, instead of butter when scrambling eggs or frying potatoes, rub it on chicken breasts before roasting or use it when you make caramelized onion.

For storing the grease, we suggest you let your pan sit on the stovetop for a while until the grease cools and solidifies into a layer of fat. Then scoop up the fat with a spatula and add it to a jar. If you don’t want any waste, then you should pour off the fat while it’s hot.

4. Stale bread

There are so many different ways you can use your leftover bread! For example, you can turn dry bread into croutons for soups and salads. Or for homemade breadcrumbs which can be used over casseroles, pasta and baked chicken, or bread pudding, or French toast – which is a great idea you can use to make sure you don’t throw away a bit stale bread.

5. Black bananas

We’ve said it once, and we say it again. Overripe bananas are actually pretty great for making goodies. You can use them right away or place them in the freezer and thaw later for banana bread, muffins, or cake. You can also use them straight from the freezer (without thawing them) in a smoothie or blend them up into a banana ice cream!

6. Vegetable tops

For many years I’ve thought the only part I can eat from the celery is the root. I’ve known for a while that the stalks are also delicious in foods. But I didn’t know I can also use the carrot tops, fennel fronds, and beet greens until recently. They’re edible and tasty too if you know how to use them! You can sauté them with olive oil, garlic, and some of your other favorite greens, or add them into soups. Beet greens are also good in smoothies.

7. Pumpkin and squash seeds

If you decide to make a pumpkin pie or a butternut squash soup, keep in mind that the seeds are foods you shouldn’t throw away. Scrap the seeds and clean them up, let them dry, and then you have the chance to roast them into amazing snacks. You can make them using just some oil or butter and a pinch of salt, but you can also sprinkle some of your favorite spice blends over them before starting the roasting process.

8. Pickle juice

It doesn’t matter if your pickles are bought or homemade. When you finish the pickles, you’re left with the brine and you probably pour it in the sink. Bad idea! Why do that if you can use the pickle brine to pickle other things? Don’t you want to save some time?

Also, pickle brine can be added to salads or salad dressings. Plus, pickle juice is apparently a great hangover cure.

9. Sour milk

I always have cheese and milk in the fridge. I sometimes buy more milk than I anticipate I’ll use, so it may turn sour from time to time. What do I do then? Obviously, I throw it away. But I’ll totally reconsider this because I found out I can make cottage cheese from it!

Seems like all you need is to add vinegar to the heated soured milk and homogenize the liquid as you normally would make cheese. Once the curds are separated, rinse through a colander. And… you’re done!

10. Leftover coffee

You shouldn’t throw your leftover coffee unless you’ve added milk or whipped cream to it. But if you have to leave from home before finishing your morning cup of the amazing dark and bitter liquid, don’t let it go to waste! Leftover coffee can be used into many other things! Not only your afternoon ice coffee but also in marinades! Not to speak about the fabulous tiramisu dessert!

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Article by Raluca Cristian from So Delicious. View the original article here.