Last spring, the Blue Hill Restaurant in New York City was temporarily renamed WastED, and began serving gourmet meals made from food waste. Chef and co-owner Dan Barber says the goal was to draw attention to how much food gets thrown out before it’s ever put on a plate. In the U.S., up to 40 percent of our food ends up in landfills, where it emits climate-warming methane.

BARBER: “So the entire menu featured ingredients that we intercepted from its way to a landfill or a garbage can or compost bin.”

For example, Barber crafted a veggie burger out of the leftover fiber from a nearby juice bar. Unsold bread was re-mixed with milk and yeast and fashioned into burger buns. And pickles were made from the unattractive – but perfectly good – ends of cucumbers.

Former White House Chef Sam Kass was so inspired by his meal at WastED, he helped bring the concept to a United Nations meeting in New York. So 30 world leaders recently dined on delicacies like Landfill Salad – made with veggie scraps and liquid from a can of chickpeas.

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Barber says the delicious experience got the heads of state talking about the food-climate connection in a whole new way. And he hopes it inspires them to action at the World Climate conference in Paris.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
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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,...