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Jan 8, 2012 08:04 PM

The Big Waste....waste of time.

Just saw The Big waste. I was so insulted. My husband went to culinary school, were he told me the chefs forced them to go into a dumpster, to show them how much is wasted, every day. These chefs acted so surprised about the waste. Are you serious? You are the same chefs that wont take a delivery if its not perfect. Cry me a river that you had no idea about the waste.That is B**S***.
Mind you....I have been to those farms in NY. None of those farmers sell their "blemished" products. If they even sold it half price, everyone would buy it. .How would they make money selling the "perfect" apples at 1.99 a Lb., if consumers will take them for .59 a Lb. (but not perfect)? . Especially in this economy.

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  1. The farmers didn't sell their blemished produce. They gave it away on the show.

    I was personally appalled at the immense waste of meat and produce when - as you say - in this economy people are hungry and doing without - or settling for Hamberger Helper. I guess it's easy to be cynical and resigned about it, but my question is how can we impact the situation?

    12 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      I'm sure this show is beneficial to the ignorant. Maybe if we learned as a society that looks aren't everything, there would be more produce out their for people to chose from. But, in this society people want the best, and pay a good price for it. Look at everything else in this society.....we base everything on looks; until we accept a tomato for its flavor, not its looks, we will never learn.

      1. re: liza219

        Ignorant? Or uneducated?

        I liked this show.

        We are **educated** to expect perfection.We are trained. Food industry professionals, imo. are educated to abhor and prevent waste [well...let's not talk about chains].

        We shop weekly at a farmers market where all is not 'perfect.' but we manage to rummage and search and find great edible food. why can't all do this? Education.

        My sole problem with this show, although I liked it and thought it important, was sorrow that the folk who grew/raised/distributed the food could not find a channel to get that food to folk who need it. We've got a distribution problem. A bad one. I sincerely hope that someone learns from this show, and improves distribution. somewhere.

        Me, who ate a totally mis-formed but good roma tomato as part of dinner tonight. From a farmer, who was unashamed to offer it. [yah, I live in Southern CA. we get good tomatoes even now We do. And that raises the question about what does the rest of the country do?.]

        1. re: nikkihwood

          I agree. My husband works now works for a large wholesale supplier, and not until recently started donated unused, "unsellable" food to pantries. For years I was saying that it was such a waste to just destroy the food. He said the company could"t risk the liability. Now it's a big pr deal, how they"re helping the community. There is definitely a market out there.

          1. re: nikkihwood

            <"We shop weekly at a farmers market where all is not 'perfect.' but we manage to rummage and search and find great edible food.>

            As in Chemicalkinetics' example, below, you are also choosing your produce based on its appearance. You're just setting the bar lower. What are you rummaging around for, if not the nicest-looking specimen you can find?

            1. re: small h

              It's not just a matter of aesthetics. For example, many heirloom breeds of tomatoes develop large inedible cracks on top. I do look for those that have the most edible material, especially at the price, even while realizing that I'm trading appearance for flavor.

              1. re: JonParker

                I understand that, but you're comparing cracked heirloom tomatoes to cracked heirloom tomatoes and choosing the one that provides you with the most unblemished surface. You're still basing your selection on appearance, since you assume that all cracked heirlooms will taste pretty much the same. Now, if you tell me that an uglier cracked heirloom tastes better than a prettier cracked heirloom, and therefore you'd choose the uglier one, you would clearly be choosing by taste rather than appearance.

                1. re: JonParker

                  I think that is the point. We all do some selection. We all try to play the ones appear the most attractive or even the ones that appear most tasty. Why not? So either you do the selection or the sellers (like supermarkets or restaurants) do it for you. Either way, we are left with foods which do not appeal. So what do we do with those? They often get tossed away.

                2. re: small h

                  no, we're 'rummaging' for what looks like will be the best tasting food we can purchase that day. I've got some less-than-perfect baby bok choy in the fridge as I write, waiting to be grilled for Tuesday dinner. It will be delicious.

                  1. re: nikkihwood

                    That you wrote "what looks like will (sic) be the best tasting food" makes my point yet again. Unless you are taking a bite out of every piece of bok choy to see how it tastes, you're using your eyes to choose, not your mouth. I assume that very near the less-than-perfect bok choy you bought, there were other heads of bok choy you considered and rejected, because - wait for it - they didn't look as good to you.

                    1. re: small h

                      Can't you look at fruits and veggies and see which are going to be tastier? I can. ;o) I realize that just because it looks fresh doesn't mean it will taste good, but any experienced cook that does their own shopping learns to use look and feel to pick the best, tastiest produce.


                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                        I sure can, and I invite those who think they aren't conscious of appearance to blindfold themselves as they rummage and see how pleased they are with what they get. I'm in full agreement with those who to say that vegetables don't have to be camera-ready to taste good. But if you claim to disregard how a tomato looks because you can tell how it will taste using only your other senses (or your psychic powers, or the knowledge that you're standing in a farm market and not a supermarket), you are lying. Just admit that looks matter. And don't worry. No one will call you shallow.

                3. re: nikkihwood

                  We don't eat fresh tomatoes in the winter.

            2. I wonder how CSA's are handling this? I've heard some customers on line complaining about the quality from the company i use. My deliveries are certainly not perfect, and I still use it, but I still waste plenty.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Shrinkrap

                I also get veggies from a CSA, and I'll be honest-- I get lots of stuff that I personally wouldn't have bought at a farmers' market or grocery store (arugula leaves with lots of insect holes, carrots that are so crooked that they are very hard to peel or even wash thoroughly, etc.) As long as people have a choice, they will choose as they will, and there *will* be waste.

              2. People seriously should be surprised. We are not stupid. On one hand, we want everything we eat from restaurants to be perfect. On the other hand, we are surprised that they throw away the not-so-perfect foods. Really?

                When we go to supermarkets and find all the perfect looking apples, do we really think all apples are perfectly coming off the trees? In the case, we find a mix of apples, then what? Then we pick the best looking ones and leave the bad looking one behind. It is what it is.

                "If they even sold it half price, everyone would buy it."

                Not so sure about it. Even homeless people have high expectation. I came from a community with high population of homeless (Berkeley, CA; Oakland, CA). If you try to give a blemished apple to a homeless, then he will likely yell at you.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Here in Beautiful Downtown Baltimore the homeless guys will yell at you if you give them a perfect apple. Or a prime filet. Or money. Homeless guys yell. But, yeah I get what you're saying.
                  I often shop at a small inner city market that is frequented by lower income folks and have seen perfectly edible but not-so-pretty fruits and veggies go to waste while the perfect specimens are snatched up.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Chemicalkinetics: Only per your last paragraph, those are homeless PEOPLE and a homeless PERSON. Not just a homeless. I live where you come from and have laid many a half-eaten sandwich or today's bruised purse-banana on many a homeless community member here, and it was never received with anything but thanks.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Maybe only peripherally related, but some teens in Portland (Or) panhandle for doggy bags instead of money!

                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        They do that here, too: hence the always having a purse-banana if nothing else.

                    2. Seems like the tv show itself has little to do with the resulting discussion here. The waste from all parts of the food chain is horrible. There are regulations in some places that actually forbid donating unsold food cooked in licensed restaurants.

                      1. Waste of time? No - not at all. I thought the show was very interesting. I was surprised at the foods that were available - although I shouldn't have been. What are the laws regarding donating the food(s) to a food kitchen? I suspect they are heavily regulated - especially with in store made dated items. As far as the produce farms and meat places - I would think not so much. Vast resources that need to be taken advantage of -

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Jeanne

                          I imagine the laws vary from state to state. I've been in the supermarket industry for quite awhile, and I've seen everything from 50% off racks for out-of-code nonperishable product to everything being donated. My state doesn't allow perishable items to be sold at reduced price nor donated, so anything that's dairy or prepared food (rotisserie chicken, for instance) is tossed in the Dumpster. Bakery and grocery items are usually donated to a food bank. Produce, I'm not so sure -- I know a couple of chains which donate their waste to a composting company, but outside of that, I'm not sure. It wouldn't surprise me if they're also tossed in the Dumpster, to be honest.

                          I remember reading somewhere about food banks not wanting to complain, but complaining that most of what they can offer are bakery products. There's a reason for this: Bread and cake s incredibly cheap, so if an in-store bakery makes a lot, it's for pennies. Ditto canned products.

                          1. re: Jeanne

                            What upset me the most was that the most delicious cuts were headed for the dumpster. Beef hearts? Have you had anticuchos? Beef tongue? I've never had it when I didn't like it. I know so many people, including self professed foodies, who think I'm nuts for enjoying offal. I don't like everything. But ill try anything.

                            1. re: JonParker

                              I wonder if one problem with offal is the limited supply per animal. For the beef heart for example, there is only one per cow, so it might be hard to get a demand going when the quantity is limited. I think that's why ox tail currently cost so much.

                            2. re: Jeanne

                              Federal law protects grocers and restaurants from liability when donating food, except in cases of gross negligence.


                              1. re: mpjmph

                                Yup, I used to work at a Food Bank and we constantly had to assuage fears of potential donors that they were not putting themselves at risk by donating.

                                FWIW, Costco was by far our biggest supplier of donations; I don't know if that was a corporate policy or just the local one. In any case, it makes it easier for me to feel good about shopping there.

                                1. re: LurkerDan

                                  Thanks for that info, Dan. I will be happier shopping at Costco because they do this.