Food waste, one of the most pressing issues in food policy, has officially made it to the big screen in Anthony Bourdain's new documentary, Wasted! In America, the waste paradox is staggering: 40 percent of our food goes uneaten, while one in eight Americans are hungry. Food waste is not a singular issue - it has incredibly far-reaching effects. In fact, food production is the single biggest cause of deforestation, water extraction and biodiversity loss. And instead of reaching the mouths of the hungry, we are sending large quantities of uneaten food to landfills, where this waste becomes one of the biggest greenhouse gas contributors. In a world with a changing climate, food waste demands our attention, and chef and author Anthony Bourdain is championing the cause.
"We have the power to demand change from the food industry, and unless we shout about it, they'll never change."
Wasted! brings together a cohort of top chefs and food waste advocates who have made a significant impact in the food waste sphere, both inside and outside of the kitchen. Spearheaded by Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential and host of CNN's Parts Unknown, the documentary features chefs Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Massimo Bottura and Danny Bowien, along with food waste activist Tristram Stuart, and many others. These food waste leaders help to harness the societal spotlight on food and further direct our nation's attention to the environmental impact of our waste habits, reimagining the future of food. We've seen some of this shift begin to happen within restaurants as "farm to table" rises in popularity, and more and more consumers want to know where their food comes from. However, Chef Dan Barber points out a dissonance, explaining, "We celebrate nose to tail for the animals we consume, but rarely ever for the farm." It takes a tremendous amount of resources to grow the food we eat - moving forward, we as eaters need to be increasingly mindful of this, and in turn, advocate for shifts in our food system that prioritize wasting less food.
Though the food waste statistics are significant, addressing food waste doesn't need to be depressing! From innovative beer made out of days-old bread, to inventive root-to-stem dishes, the film shows just how delicious solving our food waste issues can be - and how we as consumers can vote with our forks to push for change. Tristram Stuart emphasizes, "We have the power to demand change from the food industry, and unless we shout about it, they'll never change." On many levels, it is galvanizing to think of the agency that we collectively have, ranging from eaters to chefs to advocates, to move the needle on food waste issues. Be sure to check out Wasted! when it hits select theaters and digital platforms on October 13th to learn more about food waste and what you can do to be a more mindful consumer and informed advocate.