Saturday January 14th and Sunday the 15th at 4:00 ET Food Network had a cooking competition where participants are only allowed to use food that is about to go waste. The show, titled "The Big Waste" says : "First class chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli tackle one of the most massive problems in food today - waste! Divided into two teams, with only 48 hours on the clock, they are challenged to create a multi course gourmet banquet worthy of their great reputations, but with a big twist; they can only use food that is on its way to the trash. The chefs' hunt takes them from grocery aisles to produce farms, and orchard lines to garbage piles, as they attempt to source enough ingredients to feed a gathering crowd. Bobby and Michael square off against Anne and Alex, as they challenge their views of food waste and how and why it is created."After watching the show I thought it touched a nicely upon an important aspect of food waste: America's obsession with the cosmetic appeal of food. Have you ever been in a grocery store and there is someone picking up every apple and scrutinizing it for any blemishes or bumps before putting it in their cart? Have you yourself ever rearranged a fruit display to find the perfect looking one? Well, grocery stores have figured this out. A lot of the food cooked with was discarded because of its appearance. For example, carrots were being thrown away because they were "too small" to sell, but still perfectly edible. As gleaners, we see this a lot. I myself gleaned rows of turnips that were too small to make them worth the harvest, but we managed to get 9 boxes! Even though they were not worth the harvest for a time-crunched farmer, we hope our recipients enjoyed them. (even if they were just a little on the smaller side)
I think of this often when I find fruits/vegetables with blemishes in my fridge. And honestly, if I can cut the blemish off and salvage the rest of an apple, I will!
-- Chris, BAG Intern