Anthony Bourdain wouldn't call himself an activist but as the executive producer of Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, he raises awareness about waste culture and his personal relationship with the food industry.
By Debora Hermele
Anthony Bourdain wouldn't call himself an activist but as the executive producer of Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, he raises awareness about waste culture and his personal relationship with the food industry. His anxiety about food waste becomes clear in the first minute - “I don't even know that we deserve to live,” and even though he was reluctant to be a part of another “depressing” food documentary he keeps it real using humor and scary statistics.
Wasted! is Anna Chai and Nari Kye’s debut documentary, and it features renowned chefs and innovative businesses that currently are using sustainable alternatives to manage waste. The exposure of the dark realities of food waste in supermarkets, restaurants, and landfills is balanced by the presentation of actual solutions that already are in practice, which makes the documentary palatable and inspiring.
The core of modern agriculture is wasteful, and it’s not fun to be confronted by the need to change our approach to food and the responsibility for the waste we create. In the United States, 40% of the food being produced is going to waste, equating to one trillion dollars and one million pounds of food wasted annually. Nearly 90% of food waste goes into landfills, contributing to excessive amounts of toxic methane being released in to our atmosphere. When it comes to the environment and sustainability, our actions have spoken more loudly than our words, and we now have the numbers to back it up.
The call to action on food waste is urgent but uplifting and is portrayed as an opportunity to create new dishes and trends. Featured chef Dan Barber explains how utilizing an entire agricultural landscape is beneficial from a nutritional standpoint as well as a financial and sustainable aspect. Chef Mario Batali inspires by proving how a “trash” fish can become the most popular dish on the menu. Chef Danny Bowien highlights the use of Eco-Feed, which is recycled food waste used to feed livestock in Japan. There are also several segments with companies successfully running businesses with food waste as a priority. The Yoplait Yogurt factory is taking advantage of the methane created by their yogurt waste and turns it in to electricity. Toast Pale Ale, invented by Tristram Stuart, uses end crusts of sandwich bread to make sustainable beer.
Wasted! successfully creates awareness by giving concrete evidence and inspires action. Some suggestions provided include making a grocery list, preparing meals, and creatively utilizing leftovers. The biggest lesson is to start caring because being connected with the food we eat can help us take back responsibility for our food chain.