The fact that we throw out more than one-third of our food supply is staggering. When you total it up worldwide, that's almost $1 trillion of food wasted each and every year.
Yes, there have been numerous efforts of late to educate people about the volume of food we waste along with the associated harms. Yes, we have more and more programs coming on line to help us reduce food waste issues. Yes, smart people and organizations across the Pacific Northwest are turning food waste into useful fuels. But what can chefs and foodservice operators do in their own commercial kitchens?
Here are four ways to reduce food waste in the Pacific Northwest, including some equipment and supplies that can help make it happen:
The first step to reducing food waste is planning on the food you're going to use. If you map out the day or weekend or even the month, you're less likely to over order on ingredients, as well as planning for innovative ways to use the ones that are going to go to waste.
These plans can be documented in calendars. They can be written down in ops manuals. They can also be made easier with the right type of equipment.
We don't know of any piece of foodservice equipment better suited for planning out portions than Pacojet. When you "Pacotize" ingredients, you can essentially process them up until the serving point and then freeze them in ideal storage conditions until they're ready for use. Are you about to throw away a piece of salmon or a pineapple that's about to go bad? Turn it into the perfect purée, sauce, or emulsion. Save the ingredient, and create high quality at the same time. Oh, and you can save money, too.
Another great way to save food is to dehydrate it. When you dehydrate foods, you reduce food waste while expanding your menu. Powdered foods, for example, can be great as a garnish or as a way to boost flavor profiles.
Looking for foods to consider for the dehydration process? Consider mushrooms, peppers, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables that require an extended shelf life to serve.
Looking for an easy way to dehydrate foods? Combitherm ovens, cook and hold ovens, and holding cabinets from Alto-Shaam provide a simple way to create a whole range of dehydrated food products, from vegetable powders to fruit leathers.
Pictured: All of the dehydrated products you can find in Chef Wade's kitchen.
Sometimes the easiest way to save on food waste is to make sure those foods are cooked properly. It doesn't always depend on shelf life. When foods are overcooked, for example, or when they're held, stored, or processed in dangerous ways that don't adhere to HACCP standards, those foods can easily wind up in the trash can.
Keeping accurate control of food temperatures, monitoring those foods, and then recording the results when applicable can ensure an operation is run safely, without the need to toss foods in the can. Cooper-Atkins created the HACCP Manager to be a tool for helping operations with the monitoring process by allowing them to maintain compliance in easy, efficient ways.
If you have a bunch of leftover ingredients you're going to throw away, figure out some interesting flavor and ingredient pairings, and blend the heck out of them. This is the basic concept behind the smoothie!
This is what Vitamix blenders excel at in Pacific Northwest commercial kitchens. Even in our Culinary Kitchen! Watch below as Chef Wade create a delicious Cherry Fruit Smoothie using Vitamix.