In the United States, 40% of our food is wasted. 90% of food waste goes to landfills where it produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. The process of making food has the most harmful impact on ecology than any other process. Clearing land for farming is destroying the rainforests. Oceans are overfished and the methods kill a lot of other fish that are unwanted. This film takes a look at the problems and solutions we need to start working on, from the farm to the table to the landfill.
One of the problems is that we eat a lot of foods that are only one part of the plant, wasting the leaves and stems. Also, when there is not enough demand, farmers have entire fields that go unharvested. Chefs also need to cook creatively, like the women in fishing villages in France did, taking the “trash fish” and making bouillabaisse. Sometimes the food just needs a more appealing name. Toothfish was renamed Chilean Sea Bass and it became a very popular menu item.
Other subjects covered in the film are large restaurant portions, a lot of which ends up in the trash, and a grassroots approach to food waste involves teaching children where their food comes from with edible gardens in schools. There is also a way to turn yogurt into electricity, but I don’t fully grasp that one.
The tone of the film is not preachy, but it has an enthusiastic, “Come on! Together we can lick this thing!” vibe. The subject matter can be dry, but they switch up the locations and the speakers to keep interest. A few topics were lingered on a bit too long in my opinion, but otherwise it was an engrossing and educational film.
Let’s allow Anthony Bourdain, executive producer and narrator, to have the last word:
“I’m not an activist but the intent of this film aligns with something that’s very much personal. I came up in kitchen regimes where you live by an absolute rule of using everything and wasting nothing, and of course, as a traveler, I see again and again how circumstances force people to cook incredibly well with the often very little food available to them. One film isn’t going to cure all of society’s ills but if a few people start thinking about what they’re eating for dinner in a different way or think twice about throwing out what is often the best stuff, it’s a good day.”
In Theatres and VOD today, October 13th.