Sustainable Film Series encourages less food waste with “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” with Anthony Bourdain | VailDaily.com

Sustainable Film Series encourages less food waste with “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” with Anthony Bourdain

Kinsey Strieb
Special to the Daily

"Wasted! The Story of Food Waste" follows professional chefs as they limit food waste. The film will be shown again on TUesday, Dec. 18, at the Dusty Boot in Eagle.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, Eagle County locals escaped the chilly air to gather at Loaded Joe's in Avon and watch the second film in Walking Mountains' Sustainability Film Series: "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste."

The buzzing crowd quickly grew quiet as the film opened with an intimate shot of the late Anthony Bourdain, declaring in his unapologetic style, "I'm not sure if we deserve to live." Bourdain goes on to describe his abhorrence of food waste as a fundamental principle.

"Use everything. Waste nothing. As a chef, this has been pounded deep into my tissue."

Yet, this is not a common thought process in our world today. As Bourdain's rant continues, the film spits out facts for viewers to consider. In the U.S. alone, 40 percent of food product is never eaten, 90 percent of wasted food ends up in landfills and the cost of food waste is $90 billion annually. Comparing these figures with descriptions of world hunger and poverty, the film calls for changes in the way people think about eating and wasting food.

From restaurant practices to grocery store expiration dates, a series of interviews question the daily processes contributing to food waste. Chef Dan Barber discusses his efforts to use the whole of whatever he's cooking, whether animal or vegetable.

Chef Mario Batali implores chefs to use uncommon seafood items, known as "trash fish," on their menus, which are sparsely seen due to customers' unfamiliarity, not because the taste is foul. Bourdain questions the necessity of expirations dates in grocery stores, especially on items with virtually limitless shelf life such as honey and bottled water. The film exposes the amount of food being thrown away at supermarkets and urges people to not only self-test products but to also buy the "ugly" food.

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Gardening and composting

One of the major problems, especially in the United States as a foreign audience member pointed out after the film, is the education of these issues and how to address food waste. The film asks several people to guess how long a head of lettuce can take to compost in a landfill, only to burst their meager delusions with the answer: 25 years. Landfills do not allow for oxygen in decomposition, which lengthens the process, leads to more methane emission and inflates global warming.

Luckily, steps are being taken around the world to educate and reduce food waste overall. A school in Louisiana has incorporated gardening and composting into its daily curriculum and has found that students appreciate and eat more of the food they grow themselves. A British brewery is replacing one third of the hops in the beer-making process with the crusty ends of sliced bread that would normally be thrown away. South Korea is not only making its citizens aware of their food waste, but also asking them to pay for it via electronic bins that weigh waste and charge by the kilogram.

While Eagle County is far from the electronic bin disposal of South Korea, there are composting solutions to consider. After the film, Shawn Bruckman, compost operations manager of Vail Honeywagon, proudly announced the county's recent compost drop site and collection initiative. With one compost drop site for Vail residents currently up and running, the company is preparing to open another drop site for Avon residents by Saturday, Dec. 15, with one in Minturn soon to follow. Additionally, it offers compost collection from local businesses. To learn more, residents and businesses can contact compost@honeywagonorganics.com.

For those interested in seeing "Wasted! The Story of Food Waste," there will be one more showing at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at The Dusty Boot in Eagle.