Food Waste

By Dan Weimer, Shamane's social media consultant

When I was 16 my parents told me I needed to get a job. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but there was a bakery down the street that was hiring. It was between school and home, paid minimum wage, and made a good Napoleon so I wasted no time turning in my resume. It was a family business that liked giving kids a chance. I was hired and the next week found myself, for the first time, in a kitchen cleaning dishes and running cakes to customers.

I saw a lot of new things that week, but there was one thing in particular that struck me; bakeries can be wasteful. The shop I was working at had a glass case that extended the length of two walls and was filled every morning, commonly remaining so until it was time for me to start cleaning up. Wedding cakes were trimmed and the edges discarded, coffee pots poured out undrank, the pastries that couldn't be boxed and sold grew stale and were discarded.

While bakeries can be big offenders, this is by no means an isolated problem. Restaurants, grocery stores, farms, and even at home we throw away huge amounts of food every day. And it's not just the lost calories we miss, it's the gas the truck used to drive it to us, the water it took to grow the food, and the effort it took someone to box it all up are all wasted when we are forced to throw food away. Every business has a responsibility to reduce this, and here I'd like to talk about a few ways the Bake Shoppe is working to do just that.

Use all the parts

Red Velvet and Vanilla cake scraps

Whether it's chicken or cake, you can always use all the parts. When Shamane roasts the chicken for her famous pot pies nothing is wasted. The bones are boiled for broth, the pan drippings turned into gravy, every piece of delectable chicken diligently pulled off. When a baker goes to decorate a cake the first step is cutting off the soft edges, allowing the icing to stick. While most bakeries toss this away we take the moist cake scraps and roll them in buttercream, before dipping them in chocolate  and voila! Scrumptious cake truffles. Even bread can take on new life- slightly stale bread makes the best bread pudding and the crunchiest croutons. It takes creativity to prevent food waste, rather than just buying ingredients to fit into your recipe, look at the best ingredients available and ask; How can I use all of that?

We think you're beautiful

Fresh Palisade Peaches

Is there anything better than a fresh peach? One of the great tragedies of our time is how much amazing fruit is thrown away just because it looks a little different. Many grocery stores and restaurants only serve what is referred to as a "grade A" fruit, but the difference between grade A and grade B is commonly nothing more than a slight variance in size or color. We think grade B fruit is just as delicious, and it's awfully tough to care about how it looked after it's baked into one of our Peach Cobblers. Some farms are even willing to collect and sell the uglier fruit for cheaper and businesses should take advantage of this. There are a million and one things to do with fruits and veggies to make them tasty and beautiful, as we always say; if life bruises your apples, make pie.

Sorry, we ran out!

Fresh Fruit Tarts and Profiteroles are best right away

While that first bakery I worked at had their own strategies for reducing food waste (like donating leftover savory pastries to the local homeless shelter) there was one point they wouldn't budge on- the amount of food they made each day. To be successful they wanted the shop to look nice. To look nice the cases couldn't be empty, to fill the cases they needed to bake more than they could sell. At the end of each day we would box up the rest of the pastries and try to sell them as mystery boxes the next day, sometimes we sold them all and sometimes we didn't… I ate a lot of day old pastries that year. At Shamane's we take a different approach, we make everything in small batches, sometimes only making a half dozen of a certain item that might not last more than a day or two (Pavlova, I'm lookin' at you). So forgive us if we run out of something, it's because things are best fresh, and fresh things are not meant  to be wasted.

There are heaps of statistics being collected every year on the immensity of the food waste crisis. In the USA we waste around 40% of our food. It is either left unharvested, thrown out because it is near its sell by date, or thrown into trash cans in businesses and homes. 21% of our nation's water is used to produce food that will never be eaten, and 218 billion dollars will have been spent in the process. But no matter how sobering these statistics are, they only matter if we are willing to only buy what we need, use all of it, and cut it some slack if it's the ugly duckling.



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