What do we do when we have too much food?

When we have excess food, many of us are in the habit of scraping off the plate into the trash. Maybe, thanks to increasing support for composting, we throw it in a green bin.

Does all of this food need to be thrown away, though? It’s a privileged problem to have, that’s for sure – one that there’s a growing dialogue about – and we’ve started calling it food waste. It’s true that this issue needs addressing, and it’s an exciting opportunity for culinary creativity and innovation.

But here’s some food for thought: food waste is a misnomer.

Source: Ryerson Eats

Joshna Maharaj is a celebrated Toronto-based chef and activist who is shaking up the way we think about our relationship with food. She argues that there’s a much more complicated problem at play: the food we’re throwing away is still consumable.

“I know that the phrase ‘food waste’ is quite commonly used, but it’s a bit troublesome. There’s a lot of talk about using ‘food waste’ to make meals to serve to vulnerable people, but the suggestion that ‘waste’ food is what poor/hungry folks are fed is a bit of a problem.

Also, it’s important to note that the food we’re talking about here is actually perfectly fine to eat, but someone has decided to throw it away…the issue here is really about the human being making the decision to throw perfectly good food away.”

Joshna proposes a shift in language to reflect this bigger picture, a move to stop talking about “food waste” and start talking about “surplus food.” It is indeed a staggering surplus – we’re talking about nearly half of the food produced worldwide.

THEATER OF LIFE – our Opening Night film at #PIF2016 – features Italian culinary artist Massimo Bottura, whose restaurant was named the world’s best in 2016. The film follows Massimo and 60 of the world’s best chefs on a very special project: transforming food headed for the trash into nutritious meals, served to the hungry at a gourmet soup kitchen during Expo Milano 2015.

Source: Tasting Table

Massimo continues to spread his idea around the world. This past summer, a group of superstar chefs – including Joshna – joined Massimo at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The enormous food supplies not used by athletes became delicious meals for the city’s homeless – and a statement on the potential for surplus food.

The future of food comes down to changes in human behaviour. People like Joshna and Massimo are paving the way for a surplus food revolution, showing the world that we already have all we need – we just need to rethink how we use food. We can’t wait to see their work in action in Theater of Life!

Come out to the Planet in Focus Opening Night Gala on Thursday, October 20, 2016 for an introduction by Chef Jamie Kennedy, a screening of Theater of Lifeand a discussion with the film’s director Peter Svatek and Chef Joshna Maharaj. Be sure to stay on for the After Party at 918 Bathurst with dishes made with surplus food by The Stop Community Food Centre, wine from Masi Modello, beer from Steam Whistle Brewing, and a photography exhibit!


October 20, 2016

Why Food Waste Isn’t Really Food Waste