NEW YORK—They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. If the old adage is true, The Food Think Tank is well on its way to getting through to both men and women.
The nonprofit group that advocates for environmentally sound ways to alleviate hunger hosted a packed session with rapid-fire five-minute gems of wisdom at Broadway’s Snapple Theater Center on Sept. 19. They served a healthy array of appetizers before and after the event, much of which was food rescued from being sent to a landfill.
The approach is a delicious solution, and one that makes environmental, economic, and political sense, if you were to ask any one of the more than a dozen speakers who crowded the stage at the evening’s event.
“Food rescue is a common sense approach,” said Kevin Duffy of City Harvest, who spoke on stage. City Harvest was started when one of the founders realized that a restaurant’s unused food was just being thrown out every day. Now they collect food from about 2,000 donors in New York City and redistribute it to those in need.
According to Food Tank, New Yorkers produce 600,000 tons of food waste every year. Globally, one-third of food production is simply wasted. That waste ends up in landfills, where it contributes to environmental degradation from methane emissions as it decomposes.
“It’s the most absurd issue—it’s so stupid,” said Nick Nuttall, a communications director with the United Nations Environment Program. “People love an issue that’s stupid because they can do something about it.”
One of those solutions that cities across the United States have begun to embrace is food composting. At least 200 cities across the country collect food waste from homes for compost. New York City will become one of them in 2014.
For chef Mary Cleaver, it’s a welcome step in the right direction after years of struggling to find a way to compost from restaurants. Cleaver, who runs The Cleaver Corporation and is a leader in the sustainable food movement in America, said that it costs about half as much to compost as it does to send things to landfill. She also has a basic recommendation for reducing the amount of food waste to begin with: cooking.
“If more people cook, there’d be less waste,” said Cleaver. “Healthy food is better.”