If you want to cook like a professional chef, try turning your food waste into a meal.

BARBER: “The chef’s DNA is to capture waste and reuse it and make it the ravioli special the next day. But we don’t call it waste. We call it a ravioli special with yesterday’s vegetables and a little cheese or whatever.”

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That’s Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York. He says using food scraps helps reduce the nation’s food waste problem . . . and it’s a big problem. In the U.S., about one third of our food supply ends up in landfills, where it emits climate-warming methane. And the waste is not just scraped off our plates – it also comes from the kitchen, grocery store, processing plant, and even the farm.

Fixing the problem will require a shift in food culture, but Barber says we can start at home by using overlooked food – like meat trimmings and unattractive vegetables. Think banana bread when you see an overripe banana.

For inspiration, he recommends old recipes, since peasants made use of all available ingredients. For instance bouillabaisse was invented as a way to turn otherwise unsellable fish into a delicious meal.

BARBER: “That’s what cooking is all about. It’s transformational, and we forget that in our land – the American experience of abundance.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

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Bud Ward

Bud Ward is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality,...