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What’s Wasted at Food Festivals

What’s Wasted at Food Festivals
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  • What’s Wasted at Food Festivals

    Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 10:54 am
    Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 10:54 am Post #1 - August 11th, 2010, 10:54 am
    What's Wasted at Food Festivals

    Week before last, The Wife and I did some yoga and grooved to tunes at Wanderlust (turns out, Moby is not the guy in the Six Flags commercial – totally different people).

    I was impressed with the waste system in place at Wanderlust: most receptacles were labeled with directions as to where which waste was supposed to go.

    Image

    Restaurants are, in many ways, educational. Looking at the menu at, say, Vie, you get a sense of what farms are providing exceptional ingredients (Paul Virant, however, is loathe to say that he is “educating” his customers – I’ve asked him about this several times, and he seems to have a bad reaction to the word, probably because it sounds condescending to customers, though it seems to me that his place and many others are raising public consciousness about worthy chow).

    Restaurants and Chicago food festivals are opportunities to leverage “teachable moments” and enlighten the eating public about where their food comes from…and where the waste should go. Lolla is a good example of a food festival that’s trying to serve good food and, it seems, set a good example. Not only did GEB champion higher quality cuisine, but he held to a green policy and the festival aligned itself with other, related green organizations like the Active Transportation Alliance and H2O, two groups that seem to be fighting the good fight and that I had never heard about before I saw them mentioned in connection with Lolla. Thus, I become educated.

    To the best of my knowledge, Chicago Gourmet is not quite so strict about green initiatives, though they have made efforts toward recycling wine bottles, boxes and corks, and they have set up green stations for accepting recycled materials.

    GEB did good by pressing food vendors to minimize waste and even, if possible, avoid utensils entirely. I understand chefs don’t want to put their carefully prepared food on reused plates, but there should be some way for Chicago chefs to more actively eliminate waste in the festival environment. I must say, as excellent as the Green City Market BBQ was, it was sad to see so much food simply tossed out because many servings were so huge. And when waste has to be put in plastic bags, it means loads of stuff -- even potentially recyclable stuff -- is going to end up in landfills.

    Zero Waste is a laudable festival goal. No one wants to be preached at, but if as I eat good food, I can learn a little more, and take a little more action to preserve the planet on which the food grew, then that seems a good thing.

    Still, much will get wasted at any festival, like this guy at Wanderlust with a fork in his nose:

    Image
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 11:24 am
    Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 11:24 am Post #2 - August 11th, 2010, 11:24 am
    well... California and yoga, that explains a lot....
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 11:37 am
    Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 11:37 am Post #3 - August 11th, 2010, 11:37 am
    I am always amazed at how much waste is generated at many festivals. It was rather refreshing to visit the Park Silly Sunday Market this past June and experience their "No Trace Left Behind / Zero Waste Market." Here is their blurb:

    "No Trace Left Behind" is a nationwide effort to take responsibility for ourselves and the impact we make daily on the environment. It involves following the same rules in our everyday lives that we follow when hiking or camping: "Pack it in, Pack it out" or in the case of the Park Silly Sunday Market, taking advantage of the Zero Waste areas located throughout the market. Zero Waste emphasizes the Recycle in Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. All of our food vendors are using recyclable utensils, cups, and plates. We will collect these used items in the Zero Waste containers and food waste gets fed to the pigs at Potter's farm in Coalville. Our successful Zero Waste program from the 2008 season resulted in a total of 7 1/2 bags of actual trash being sent to the landfill. That's 60,000 visitors and only 7 1/2 bags of trash! I know, it's sooo cool.
    -Mary
  • Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 1:48 pm
    Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 1:48 pm Post #4 - August 11th, 2010, 1:48 pm
    I know when I go to the New Orleans Jazz Fest every year, the environmental group at Tulane tries to get people to recycle their bottles and cans, but they have problems getting them to even do that, and they have people standing next to the recycling bins, to make sure that only the cans and bottles get put in there. The problem is that some of the people manning these recycling bins are volunteers who really want to see the stuff get recycled, and some of the people are minimum wage employees that could care less about whether the recycling gets contaminated. You are not supposed to bring in your own beverages either, which means that a lot of the beverages get served in cups. I have brought in a few bottles of water, and they never check my bag well enough to spot them. Ever since 9/11, they check all your bags and knapsacks as you enter the grounds, but they never dig around to the bottom of the bag.

    I know that at Ravinia they also tried to get people to recycle all their cans, bottles and newspapers. I think they finally gave up a few years ago, and now they sort out the recycling themselves.

    I know that I used to volunteer at the recycling center at North Park Village Nature Center operated by the Resource Center, and I know that Ken Dunn has tried to get a successful recycling program going at Taste of Chicago, but I do not know how successful he has been. The city of Chicago, as evidenced by their blue bag recycling program, does not put recycling in high regard. I think now at least they are doing some pilot programs in the City where people get carts to separate their recycling into, instead of putting it in these blue bags which are mixed in with the rest of the garbage.

    Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 3:08 pm
    Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 3:08 pm Post #5 - August 11th, 2010, 3:08 pm
    I first saw multiple "trash" containers at a festival in Hawaii. As above, they had three containers: compost, recyclables, and landfill. I've been to that fest multiple times so it's nothing unusual for me but it does surprise me how many people have to be told what goes in which bin.

    The Microbrew & Food Review in Oak Park coming up on Aug 21, attempts to be zero waste. Each year they get better at it but it does require staff at the bins to make sure things are disposed of properly and making sure as many food items as possible are served on/with compostable items.
  • Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 3:20 pm
    Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 3:20 pm Post #6 - August 11th, 2010, 3:20 pm
    jpreiser wrote:I first saw multiple "trash" containers at a festival in Hawaii. As above, they had three containers: compost, recyclables, and landfill. I've been to that fest multiple times so it's nothing unusual for me but it does surprise me how many people have to be told what goes in which bin.


    Wanderlust was also staffed by wide-eyed youth who stood by receptacles to help guide waste materials to their proper dump spot. People (including me) sometimes need schooling in this stuff.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - August 12th, 2010, 7:39 am
    Post #7 - August 12th, 2010, 7:39 am Post #7 - August 12th, 2010, 7:39 am
    This article may be of interest

    In BBC News magazine; 11 Aug 2010; B. Cherryman; The late-night sandwich run wrote:
    Shops throw away an estimated 1.6m tonnes of food every year. But more and more are thinking inventively about waste and distributing leftovers to those in need.

    (click link above to see full article)
  • Post #8 - August 12th, 2010, 8:18 am
    Post #8 - August 12th, 2010, 8:18 am Post #8 - August 12th, 2010, 8:18 am
    sazerac wrote:This article may be of interest

    In BBC News magazine; 11 Aug 2010; B. Cherryman; The late-night sandwich run wrote:
    Shops throw away an estimated 1.6m tonnes of food every year. But more and more are thinking inventively about waste and distributing leftovers to those in need.

    (click link above to see full article)


    I believe Chicago restaurants are making an effort to provide food to the needy (some of it is distributed at Pacific Garden Mission, I believe), though it's my understanding that there are some liability issues that may discourage restaurants from being too liberal with their donations of day-old food.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #9 - August 12th, 2010, 2:41 pm
    Post #9 - August 12th, 2010, 2:41 pm Post #9 - August 12th, 2010, 2:41 pm
    Obviously part whimsy, but recently Yanko Design featured the work of Chris Panopoulos, who asks the question: "How can transforming disposable objects eliminate wastage consumption to create a reusable multifunctional object?"

    One of the iterations of his "Swiss Army coffee cup" has a "Willy Wonka-inspired" cookie lid:

    Image

    (Odd, I know, but the cup with cookie lid for some reason makes me think of Meret Oppenheim's furry cup.)

    I didn't go to Coachella this year, but I believe they still work with TRASHed to have artists decorate the festival's recycling bins--another means of raising awareness about waste and waste disposal.
  • Post #10 - August 12th, 2010, 3:56 pm
    Post #10 - August 12th, 2010, 3:56 pm Post #10 - August 12th, 2010, 3:56 pm
    Hi- If the food pantries made it convenient for the farmers, they could get produce that perfectly edible, but gets pitched when the farmers load up their truck. I know at the Evanston farmer's market on Saturdays, people raid the trash bins after the farmers go home, and find all kinds of treasures.

    If there was one central location where the farmers could drop off the excess produce, the food pantries could get lots of donations. The food pantries also have to have a place to distribute the produce that day, such as a soup kitchen.

    I know though the times I have had excess produce in my garden, it has taken some doing to find a home for the produce. Soup kitchens only want enough produce to feed 50 people. If you have 2 pounds of green beans to give away, they have no use for it. They will take salad items such as cukes and tomatos though. Zucchini is really hard to give away. I did not realize there were so many zucchini haters in this world. A lot of people do not know what to do with it either. Tomatoes are really easy to give away. Most people like tomatoes, and they do not have to cook them. Hope this helps, Nancy
  • Post #11 - August 12th, 2010, 6:06 pm
    Post #11 - August 12th, 2010, 6:06 pm Post #11 - August 12th, 2010, 6:06 pm
    NFriday wrote:Hi- If the food pantries made it convenient for the farmers, they could get produce that perfectly edible, but gets pitched when the farmers load up their truck. I know at the Evanston farmer's market on Saturdays, people raid the trash bins after the farmers go home, and find all kinds of treasures.

    If there was one central location where the farmers could drop off the excess produce, the food pantries could get lots of donations. The food pantries also have to have a place to distribute the produce that day, such as a soup kitchen.


    My father is 80 years old. Up until last year, he would garden two acres. In that his garden was in a flood plain, the soil was among the best in the midwest and the yields were incredible.

    The local "free store" was looking for food contributions for the poor. He called down there and told them that if they could send a couple of people to pick it, they could have whatever they needed. Of course, they said that would be impossible. OK, my father said. I will pick it but can you send someone to pick it up. No, we only accept donations at our backdoor (which is in a bad neighborhood).

    He ended up picking it up and taking a wagon around and giving it to all the neighbors. After that, he quit gardening other than in his backyard.

    When we lived in Cleveland and Detroit, we used to collect fresh, canned and frozen foods from various sources and deliver to local soup kitchen and other feeding units around the city.

    We planned to do the same in Chicagoland but it was such an absolute hassle to find a place to contribute to it. We would call local food pantries and find that they wanted cash or Jewel gift certificates rather than the food.
  • Post #12 - August 12th, 2010, 6:25 pm
    Post #12 - August 12th, 2010, 6:25 pm Post #12 - August 12th, 2010, 6:25 pm
    Hi- They do not have a good means of distributing produce before it goes bad. If you have boxes of cereal, they are glad to take them off your hands, but they do not want produce.

    One year when almost all of my sister's peaches froze, she decided to grow some veggies. She had a whole bulk box of cukes to give away, and called up the local food bank. She said that they could have them if she got her bulk box back. A week later they were still sitting in the bulk box, rotting. None of them had been distributed. To top it off, they were getting ready to dispose of the whole thing, including the bulk box. She made them get the bulk box out of the trash. Thanks, Nancy
  • Post #13 - August 12th, 2010, 8:32 pm
    Post #13 - August 12th, 2010, 8:32 pm Post #13 - August 12th, 2010, 8:32 pm
    Actually, I had spoken about the food waste issue to a couple farmers at the Evanston market (I was looking into getting some of the potentially wasted food into the schools) Many of the farmers do indeed take it to food pantries, but in their hometowns.
  • Post #14 - August 19th, 2010, 11:14 am
    Post #14 - August 19th, 2010, 11:14 am Post #14 - August 19th, 2010, 11:14 am
    I've been wasted at several food festivals. Or is that baseball games and church events...
    I'm not Angry, I'm hungry.
  • Post #15 - June 27th, 2019, 7:01 am
    Post #15 - June 27th, 2019, 7:01 am Post #15 - June 27th, 2019, 7:01 am
    Mobile applications fighting food waste sprout like weeds as awareness spreads. But how effective are they?
    https://ensia.com/features/smartphone-apps-food-waste/
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #16 - September 10th, 2019, 4:34 pm
    Post #16 - September 10th, 2019, 4:34 pm Post #16 - September 10th, 2019, 4:34 pm
    The World Wastes Tons of Food. A Grocery ‘Happy Hour’ Is One Answer.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/busi ... -ios-share
    Never order barbecue in a place that also serves quiche - Lewis Grizzard
  • Post #17 - September 10th, 2019, 5:03 pm
    Post #17 - September 10th, 2019, 5:03 pm Post #17 - September 10th, 2019, 5:03 pm
    Dave148 wrote:
    The World Wastes Tons of Food. A Grocery ‘Happy Hour’ Is One Answer.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/busi ... -ios-share


    Jewel does this quite a bit. You will see a yellow label by the regular one and it shows the regular and the "You Pay" costs.
    Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
    Woody Allen

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