Food Waste Audit Part 2: At the Table

City of Boulder: Food Waste Audit
Part 2: At the Table… What You Can Do!

By Devon Reynolds

Have you checked out the Boulder Food Waste Audit yet? It’s a study released by the Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) in collaboration with researchers at CU Boulder. It investigates the impact of current food recovery operations in Boulder; perceptions of food donation among city grocery stores, restaurants, and cafés; and the potential for rerouting more food away from the trash and onto the table. Last week, we covered the general findings of the study in Part 1 of our series on the Food Waste Audit. This week, we’re taking a deeper look at what’s causing waste at restaurants. Turns out, it’s probably those of us innocently enjoying our rushed work lunches and date night dinners.

When asked why food is thrown away rather than donated, employees said that their customers were responsible for most of the food waste at restaurants. Eating out has become more and more common over the last century, with 2015 marking the first time that Americans spent more money at restaurants than at grocery stores. So, whether you eat out once a month, once a week, or once a day, it’s worth considering how your behaviors may be contributing to the huge food waste problem in the US.17.11.2013 ZDJECIA WIZERUNKOWE DLA RESTAURACJI BURGER KITCHEN TOMKA WOZNIAKA , FOT. MARCIN KLABAN

Ok, I’m guilty. Last week, I had some beautiful leftover salmon all boxed up and ready to take home with
me…but I accidentally left it sitting on the table. An easy mistake to make, but one that cost me a whole extra meal, and, on a larger scale, is part of the 47% of all seafood wasted in the US. So, next time you’re out at a restaurant, consider the following:

  1. Order smaller portions. Plenty of restaurants pile on the food. If you know the entrée plates are too big for you to finish, try getting an appetizer or a soup and salad. Then you won’t have to worry about the smelly results of forgetting your leftovers in the trunk of your car over the weekend.
  2. Share with someone. Between two, you can take on those big portions and the food won’t get left lying around. Or, do what I do and convince everyone to share everything—that way you get to sample as many delicious dishes as possible.
  3. Ask to leave out sides that you’re not going to eat. Panera keeps offering me a baguette as a side for my sandwich. It is really hard to turn down all that bread to go with my bread, but…well, I think you’re probably getting the idea here.
  4. Take the extra food home.  It keeps your wallet in your pocket at lunch tomorrow, and it’s probably tastier than your 6am-rushing-out-the-door PB&J. Don’t be like me. Food left on the table ends up in the landfill.

This may all seem obvious, but take it from the perpetrator of the Leftover Salmon Incident of 2016—it’s worth going the extra mile to make sure that good food gets eaten. When it gets thrown away, all the valuable resources that went into producing that food get wasted along with it—think water and fuel.  This is a problem that we, individuals, can actually solve.

Keep an eye out next week for Part 3 of our Food Waste Audit blog series, or get your very own copy today.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the BFR website for more information about how to get involved in the effort to reduce food waste in Boulder.

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