Why do we waste food?

Flashfood’s mobile application seeks to reduce food waste by taking prepared meals that would otherwise end up in a landfill, and donating them to hungry individuals.

Food waste is now the number one component of landfills in the US, and 15% of this waste comes from restaurants. At first glance, this statistic might seem somewhat overestimated. Since restaurants are businesses, wouldn’t owners want to do everything they can to reduce waste and therefore increase their bottom line? As it turns out, there isn’t a simple answer to that question (surprise!).

This recent NPR report explains that oftentimes restaurants don’t even know how much food is actually being wasted. One chef interviewed by the NPR reporter said, “I’ve never taken the time to weigh or measure how much we do throw away,” while another stated, “It’s just another thing we’re used to as a restaurant professional … the amount of garbage that’s thrown out on a nightly basis…It can be a little staggering, I guess, but that’s just what happens.”

The verb “waste”, as defined by the Oxfored English Dictionary:

“To consume, expend, bestow (money, property) uselessly, with needless lavishness or without adequate return; to make prodigal or improvident use of; to squander.”

While some waste is necessary to prepare a wholesome and attractive dish, much of what ends up in kitchen dumpsters is perfectly edible. Restaurants must recognize that they are truly squandering resources (their own and that of society as a whole). Some simple  changes, including smarter procurement, tracking, and also donating food can help limit this largely unnecessary, but industry-wide behavior while providing savings for restaurants (yes, in many cases food donations are tax deductable!).

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