The global food system is responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions, but every year according to FAO estimates we waste over a third of all the food produced with barely a second thought. That means that 28% of land is cultivated for no reason, because its produce ends up thrown away.

The data available on food waste in restaurants tells us that this sector is crucially important. In Europe, restaurants are responsible for 14% of all food wasted (“Impact Assessment On Measures Addressing Food Waste To Complete SWD (2014) 207 Regarding The Review Of EU Waste Management Targets,” European Commission, Brussels, 2014) and the majority of waste occurs during the food preparation phase (“Overview of Waste in the UK Hospitality and Food Service Sector,” WRAP, 2013).

food waste

The costs due to food waste correspond to 12% of the total spent on buying ingredients. Avoiding food waste is important. Don’t throw away food left by your diners, but suggest they take their leftovers home in a disposable container, as well as any bottles with wine still in them. Menu choices can also play a big role: Offer dishes that use every part of a vegetable from root to shoot, reducing offcuts to a minimum, and cook animals from nose to tail, using the offal as well as more common cuts. Many recipes from the past were designed to make the most of what was available. The revival of traditions, combined with a new environmental awareness, can lead to a more sustainable food system while continuing to celebrate the pleasure of food.

If you want more information or new ideas for reducing food waste, have a look at the Tempi di Recupero website, where you’ll find tips, recipes and events to help make sustainability an everyday practice. They’ve also produced a poster that lists the most important things to keep in mind to avoid pointless waste.