no matter what you order these days, it comes with a side of “food movement.” it’s local, seasonal, pasture-raised, cage-free. farm-fresh, organic. free from GMOs, hormones, antibiotics, and altogether wholly sustainable.
everyone’s telling an ethical food story—even fast food giants like McDonalds and KFC, who made headlines when they announced moves toward using antibiotic-free chicken.
as consumers, we’ve demanded to know more and more about what’s on our plates—what it is and how it got there—and brands have had to live up to that or face withering criticism and declining sales.
so we know more and more about what we’re eating, but next to nothing about what we’re not.
that isn’t a riddle; let me explain. it’s estimated that we waste a third to half of all the food produced every year. this waste includes food scraps, food that’s gone bad in your fridge or at the store, and food that’s never harvested because it doesn’t have the perfect color, shape, or size.
despite this waste, about 13 percent of Americans are food insecure, meaning they don’t have consistent access to nutritious food that they can afford.
as we stare down this uneven equation, and it starts to get more and more attention, there’s an opportunity for brands to educate and lead. for example, the wastED effort from Blue Hill Stone Barns’ chef Dan Barber sparked a conversation about how even lowly table scraps can be saved—and—elevated.
others are tackling this head on. there’s the country’s first zero waste grocery store. a Danish chicken restaurant that talks about its beak to tail method. and a Brooklyn restaurant that makes a point out of Sunday night dinners.
still, there’s ample room and opportunity for bigger brands to engage in meaningful practices and real conversation with their consumers about waste. to use different parts of the chicken or beef and tell us why; to pick the bruised vegetables and fruits because it’s good for people and the land; to tell us where their scraps go.
it’d be an effort that would go a long way in setting an example in most industries— and even homes— in fixing the food equation between the haves and haven’ts.
it’s an opportunity that’s waiting. don’t let it go to waste.
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