Go ahead, guess how many pounds of food are thrown away each year. Bet you don’t even come close. The number is shocking — over 42 million tons of food were thrown away in the United States in 2018 alone.
Yet more than 35 million Americans are suffering from a shortage of food. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Just one of the reasons for such waste is that many Americans don’t know when food is too bad to eat, and when it is okay. Erring on the side of safety, tons of food are thrown into the trash to end up in landfills when it could have been turned into a delicious meal.
Chef Michael Love aims to solve the problem with his book, The Salvage Chef Cookbook.
Make no mistake, Love isn’t suggesting that you raid trash bins or eat spoiled food to reduce the amount of waste sent to the trash can. Instead, he is offering suggestions of how to use food that might otherwise go to the trash can because you don’t know how to cook with it.
Love won his moniker, “The Salvage Chef,” while working at the Epicure Gourmet Market in Miami Beach, Florida.
One day, I discovered that approximately forty pounds of chicken trim [tenderloin and fat trimmings] were being thrown away each week,” Love said.
He suggested making a chicken meatloaf incorporating roasted vegetables and fresh herbs with the meat headed to the waste bin. Once it was put on the menu, the chicken meatloaf sold out in less than an hour.
Every day families throw away perfectly edible yet overlooked food as they are often unaware of how to ‘salvage’ it and create something delicious,” he said.
According to The Salvage Chef Cookbook, food waste in America has increased 16% from 2013-2014. Supermarkets are a portion of that problem, said Love, throwing away up to 14% of the produce in the store simply because it does not look appealing.
Salvage to most people means saving something that has been discarded. To me, salvaging in the kitchen is about taking real food destined for the trash bin and finding an innovative and delicious purpose for it, thereby saving money, reducing waste and delivering delicious food to the table,” said Love.
While Love creates more than 125 recipes in The Salvage Chef Cookbook to effectively use food that is on its way out, he wants to help readers store their ingredients properly in the first place so that food stays fresher longer.
There is an entire chapter dedicated to food storage and common questions such as “Is meat that is brown okay to eat?” (For the record, yes, it is.) Love says that besides the scrapings on a plate at the end of a meal, “no other food item gets tossed in the trash more often than bread.” So, of course, he offers a lengthy discussion of keeping bread fresh and how to use the stale stuff.
Food thrown away is money thrown away, plain and simple. By discovering new ways to make use of the food you already have, you don’t just help prevent trash from piling up. You also keep more cash in your pocket.
Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay. Originally published on February 3, 2015, this article was updated in June 2021.