Preventing Food Waste Is Goal of Paris’s Freegan Restaurant

What can, by now, be called ‘a movement’ to reduce food waste – in one of the cleverest-possible ways, is what Paris’s Freegan Pony restaurant is all about. Chef Aladdin Charni feeds some 400 people daily on perfectly good food that, were it not for him, would have been discarded as ‘waste’ by merchants at Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market.

Why would all these vegetables – Freegan serves only vegetarian meals – be destined for destruction? Their ‘sell by’ dates had, or were on the verge of being, past.

What inspired Charni to establish his restaurant?

In order for us to prove the value and safety of food waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food waste is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings,” Charni told CNN.

He explained that while he sources from numerous places – including food banks, restaurants, cafes, food photographers, evens, and functions – perhaps his greatest, and most reliable source is the Rungis market. Because the wholesalers there are selling to a spectrum of resellers as well as restaurants, they want their produce to leave the market at, or approaching, its freshness peak. When something – even a case of something – gives a merchant reason to suspect it’s past one of those points, they don’t try to sell it. They can’t: The French are particular about their food, and the Rungis merchants are particular about their reputations.

An increasing number of U.S. supermarket operators are making similar efforts to avoid seeing produce that may not be quite ‘fit for prime time’ be tossed into the dumpster. Instead, many are using perfectly healthy but just-past-prime foods in their in-house prepared food operations. In worst case scenarios, where something more than a few days beyond prime, it can form the basis for a soup – one already in the kitchen’s repertoire, or a new, innovative one.

Savings from not throwing perfectly good food out can be substantial. Of course it’s a lot easier to monitor the age of produce in a store than in one’s home, where things often are stuck into plastic containers are placed, in no logical way, on shelves. The volume of food ‘lost’ in this way amounts, amazingly, to more than 10% of what is bought for home use.

Consumers can save themselves a great deal of money if they create systems for refrigerator-storing of food. Both uncooked items and leftovers too often get overlooked until they are unsalvageable.

Its recent report on the Freegan Pony restaurant, on Paris’s outskirts, described how chef Aladdin Charni feeds some 400 people daily on perfectly good food that, were it not for him, would have been discarded as ‘waste’ by merchants at Rungis, the world’s largest wholesale food market.

Why would all these vegetables – Freegan serves only vegetarian meals – be destined for destruction? Their ‘sell by’ dates had, or were on the verge of being, past.

What inspired Charni to establish his restaurant?

In order for us to prove the value and safety of food waste, we couldn’t just feed specific demographics of people. We believe food waste is absolutely fit for human consumption and so that’s who we feed – human beings,” Charni told CNN.

He explained that while he sources from numerous places – including food banks, restaurants, cafes, food photographers, evens, and functions – perhaps his greatest, and most reliable source is the Rungis market. Because the wholesalers there are selling to a spectrum of resellers as well as restaurants, they want their produce to leave the market at, or approaching, its freshness peak. When something – even a case of something – gives a merchant reason to suspect it’s past one of those points, they don’t try to sell it. They can’t: The French are particular about their food, and the Rungis merchants are particular about their reputations.

An increasing number of U.S. supermarket operators are making similar efforts to avoid seeing produce that may not be quite ‘fit for prime time’ be tossed into the dumpster. Instead, many are using perfectly healthy but just-past-prime foods in their in-house prepared food operations. In worst case scenarios, where something more than a few days beyond prime, it can form the basis for a soup – one already in the kitchen’s repertoire, or a new, innovative one.

Savings from not throwing perfectly good food out can be substantial. Of course it’s a lot easier to monitor the age of produce in a store than in one’s home, where things often are stuck into plastic containers are placed, in no logical way, on shelves. The volume of food ‘lost’ in this way amounts, amazingly, to more than 10% of what is bought for home use.

Consumers can save themselves a great deal of money if they create systems for refrigerator-storing of food. Both uncooked items and leftovers too often get overlooked until they are unsalvageable.

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