Companies launch creative food waste initiatives

About one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted each year. Globally, this costs up to $940 billion annually. Brands are stepping in to address this problem, reducing food rubbish by creating new culinary concoctions from ingredients that would otherwise be discarded.


Portland-based ice cream brand Salt & Straw has developed a cult-following for its offbeat take on classic flavors. Recently, it's garnered even more attention, having announced that it will release special varieties this June made exclusively from rescued food that would have otherwise been thrown away. For instance, Spiced Rum and Apple Butter ice cream will be made from bruised apples and rum-soaked spices saved from Portland’s East Side Distillery. While the zero-waste flavors will only be available for a month, they could save an estimated 2,000 pounds of food and create greater awareness around the issue, especially in the U.S., where food waste is most evident.


Brooklyn restaurant 21 Greenpoint offers a special supper menu on Sundays; for $21, diners receive five-to-eight surprise courses that are each made from leftover ingredients from the week. When creating the tasting menu from the superfluous ingredients, chefs include a soup, salad, starch, protein, and dessert. Past waste-free dishes have included seafood stew, mushroom pesto flatbread pizza, and a chocolate cake made entirely from crumbs. 21 Greenpoint doesn’t necessarily use food items that would ordinarily be deemed too ugly to serve or those that are rotting, but rather devised the idea to manage excess inventory.


Chef and farm-to-table advocate Dan Barber made waves in 2015 when he launched the first WastED pop-up out of his NYC restaurant, Blue Hill, serving dishes made entirely of ingredients that would have been disposed, such as broccoli stalks and fish heads. Given the success of the initiative, he recently launched the same concept as a pop-up on the rooftop restaurant at Selfridges on Oxford Street in London. Barber partnered with chefs throughout the UK and Europe to serve daily specials and unique takes on traditional British cuisine with the goal of furthering consumers’ education on eliminating food waste.