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This Sustainable Food Trend Is Catching On

March 4, 2018

Up to a third of food grown never makes it to our mouths, and an estimated 1.4 billion tons of food are wasted each year. Confusing expiration dates, oversized portions, and a general disdain for "ugly" plates have contributed to this massive global problem.

While trailblazers like France are enacting policies that make it illegal for large supermarkets to waste food, the rest of the world feels far away from such sweeping change. However, grassroots action is beginning to build up into a larger movement. New documentaries like Anthony Bourdain's Wasted! The Story of Food Waste shine a light on our wastefulness on big screens as waste-first cookbooks like Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food Into Plenty help home cooks become more mindful of the trash can. All the while, entire expos dedicated to reducing food waste are making their way to cities around the world.

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How is the wellness world fighting food waste?

And now, the wellness world is joining the clean plate club. By helping people tweak their healthy eating to be more environmentally friendly in the long run, culinary classes offered by Purple Kale Kitchenworks and Sur La Table give home cooks tools to make their scraps go the distance. Healthy products like Misfit juices, made using produce that farmers can’t sell, and Planetarians sunflower chips, made by upcycling fiber that would otherwise be discarded as farm waste, are making it easy to snack sustainably.

Even wellness resorts are signing on to the trend, with long-established spots like Miraval Resort & Spa updating their culinary offerings to include "conscious cooking" classes that use food waste as the main ingredient.

"Cooking sustainably can feel daunting, but we want people to have fun with it," Miraval's executive chef Kyle Nottingham tells mbg of the program's inspiration. He's hoping that by sharing skills like how to butcher a whole chicken and how to prepare strawberry stems and carrot tops, guests will leave inspired to become a little more adventurous in their own kitchens in the name of sustainability.

He explains that chefs are well-equipped to teach home cooks how to waste less because of their passion for using ingredients to their full potential. As he speaks of turning old yogurt into a ricotta cheese for toast and saving the peels from citrus to infuse into tequila or another spirit for a tropical cocktail, his excitement is palpable. The program has been met with so much early success that the resort is now rolling out a full suite of food waste classes, including conscious baking and mixology.

Here's hoping that with the support of the wellness industry, a $3.7 trillion market, this food waste revolution will continue to spread.

Here are 7 easy ways to reduce food waste in your own home, and a few tips on how to cut down on waste outside the kitchen.

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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.