In the United States, we waste 40% of food produced, and an alarming 90% of that goes to the landfill, where it emits methane gas which is a mere 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If that statistic doesn’t do anything for you, then how about that the average American spends about $1,500 a year on food they are just going to throw away.
These are just a taste of the statistics you’ll learn from watching the 2017 Documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, produced by Anthony Bourdain. The movie is cast of all-star chefs touching on various areas of food waste and sharing the stories of how they are trying to make a difference.
I first saw the film last October, and although it will leave you a little anxious as any documentary sometimes might, that anxiety will help motivate you to be better in your everyday food waste choices, and many of the stories from the chefs will leave you feeling inspired.
Speaking of inspiring stories, the Upper Peninsula is full of establishments and individuals who are doing their part to reduce food waste. The champion of the area is non-profit, Partridge Creek Farm, of Ishpeming. The farm currently picks up food scraps from 17 different area locations including farm-to-table restaurants like The Marq, and various locations of NMU Dining Services. They also work with new brewery, Barrel + Beam, by taking all the spent grain from the brewing process off their hands. The grains were pivotal in survival of the compost this winter, helping to keep the temperature of the pile maintained. Partridge Creek sells the worm castings and compost to the public, and the funds help support the seven urban agriculture farm incubator sites they have scattered round the Ishpeming Community. If you enter the local school system cafeteria, you’ll also see signs encouraging students to “feed the worms” and place their food waste in a separate bin to make it back to farm which is a part of the farm-to-school program they have there.
They aren’t the only ones doing big things, the NMU Hospitality Program is able to drop all their food waste a short walk across the parking lot to the NMU Hoop House compost bin. The traditional three compartment compost set up provides the hoop house a steady supply of black gold.
There are some great events coming up in the Central UP region this month where you can learn more about reducing your own food waste. The first is the Earth Day Event put on by Partridge Creek Farm, at the Elks Lodge in Ishpeming on Sunday, April 22nd. The event begins at 10am – volunteers will be given coffee and garden assignments, then at noon there will be a big potluck dinner, the main dish featuring local farm raised beef from Happy Day Farm in Bark River. It’s a great chance to do your part and you can even pick up a bag of compost to help get this year’s seeds started. For more information visit the Facebook Page.
On April 25th, the documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste will be shown at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette, MI. The event is put on by the Marquette Food Co-op, and there will be local chefs and other champions of reducing food waste present to speak more on their efforts. For more information visit the Facebook Page.
Alex Palzewicz is the Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula. Her favorite way to reduce food waste is turning vegetable and meat scraps into delicious stocks. Contact her for tips at [email protected]