During this year’s DC Food Waste Week, local restaurants and online grocery stores saved over a thousand pounds of food waste.
Imperfect Foods, an online grocery store that seeks to limit food waste and promote clean energy, partnered with restaurants in Washington, DC from October 4 to October 10 to serve dishes with surplus ingredients from Imperfect Foods. In addition, the merchant helped organize events throughout DC to educate the community about sustainability and ingenuity. For each dish sold, Imperfect Foods donated $ 5 to DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that fights hunger and poverty.
According to Imperfect Foods Public Relations Coordinator Maddie Caywood, Imperfect Foods aimed to both reduce and learn about food waste through DC Food Waste Week, which ultimately saved over 1,370 pounds of food waste.
“Americans waste up to 40% of our food supply, of which 30% is wasted at the retail and consumer levels,” Caywood wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Imperfect Foods has a mission to eliminate food waste and build a fairer supply chain and invites the local community to start with a digestible, daily effort to mitigate food waste in their daily lives to inspire greater movement.”
The United States generates 108 billion pounds of food waste each year, from farmers to producers to the table. In 2018, DC reported 414 tons of food waste. Just a year earlier, in 2017, DC officials launched Zero Waste DC, which brought together various DC agencies responsible for managing food waste and sustainability, in an effort to move toward a zero-waste area.
DC Food Waste Week served as a way to encourage people to more carefully consider the food they eat against throwing it away, while supporting an organization working to stop hunger in the district, according to Melissa Gold, director of communications and marketing for DC Central Kitchen.
“DC Food Waste Week was a great way to focus on the problem and encourage people to think of sustainable solutions to reduce what we throw away every year,” Gold wrote in an email to The Hoya. “We were excited to partner with Impossible Foods for their efforts throughout the week and to be a recipient of their generous support.”
Chaia Tacos, a vegetarian taco restaurant located in the Georgetown neighborhood, also partnered with Imperfect Foods to raise money for local food banks and raise awareness of food waste in the district, according to Bettina Stern, co-founder of Chaia Tacos.
“The added bonus was that: for every ‘imperfect’ menu item we sold, IF also donated $ 5 to a local food bank,” Stern said in an email to The Hoya.
According to Caywood, Imperfect Foods also focused on training during DC Food Waste Week by organizing interactive events and panels at local restaurants centered around sustainability and improving culinary practices at a micro level in an effort to reduce food waste at home.
“In addition to special menu items, Imperfect Foods, in partnership with participating restaurants, hosted consumer events throughout the week so that Washingtonians could have the opportunity to participate in a larger conversation about food waste that started with the local community,” Caywood wrote.
Collaboration between Imperfect Foods and local restaurants was possible as a result of their common goals regarding cooking and food waste, according to Caywood.
“There is a lot of synergy between DC-based restaurants, chefs, entrepreneurs and the Imperfect Foods mission,” Caywood wrote. “With a combined mission of making delicious dishes that not only taste good, but make you feel comfortable with the impact you’ve had, Imperfect Foods could quickly gain the support of some of DC’s most beloved cuisines.”
Outside of the food waste week, the district has organized opportunities for residents to reduce their food waste, such as placing drop-off points for disposing of compostable leftovers at local farmers markets. By composting, residents can turn biodegradable waste into organic material that can serve other purposes.
DC Food Waste Week prevented more food waste than expected, demonstrating how much waste can be saved from landfills when an effort is made, according to Caywood.
“The intended effect of this week’s event was to save 1,000 kilos of food waste,” Caywood wrote. “However, Imperfect Foods and Washington, DC exceeded this goal and saved over 1,370+ pounds of waste!”