It’s estimated that 40 percent of food in the United States ends up in the dumpster every year. Think about that number for a moment – 40 percent. Almost half of our food supply. And this is often food that could have been used, but was discarded due to cosmetic blemishes or perhaps, poor refrigerator management. (Yup, guilty over here.)
But there’s a movement underway in DC to draw attention to this problem, and to demonstrate that “ugly” food can still be delicious – RescueDish.
RescueDish is a part of the DC Food Recovery Working Group, a consortium of people in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who care deeply about reducing food waste. To raise the profile of their efforts, RescueDish week spotlights chefs and brands using underutilized (or what would have been wasted) ingredients to create drool-worthy dishes, while also limiting food waste in restaurant operations. Slow Food DC was thrilled to join Rescue Dish, The Accokeek Foundation, Snail winner Common Good City Farm, and Rooftop Roots at ANXO July 10 for a Sustainability Supper to kick off the week.
ANXO’s Executive Chef Alex Vallcorba put together a special menu utilizing “ugly” produce that wasn’t acceptable for grocery stores, foraged ingredients, as well as portions of other ingredients that are often put to waste by most restaurants. This included a beautiful smoked carrot steak dish that utilized the entire carrot – even the tops! The menu also featured ANXO ciders made from foraged apples, and cocktails crafted with house-made syrups concocted from foraged ingredients.
Wanting to emphasize the importance of preserving our diverse food heritage, Vice Chair Reana Kovalcik explained that the dish featuring Carolina Gold Rice is included in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a catalog of foods that are culturally and historically significant to our region.
Common Good City Farm donated slightly misshapen tomatoes that were made into a delicious gazpacho. Amazingly, no one could tell that the tomatoes would not have been considered attractive enough to sell at market.
Almost a dozen DC-area restaurants participated in this year’s RescueDish week, including Snail of Approval winners Chaia Tacos, Blue Duck Tavern, Urbana Dining & Drinks, and Equinox. By celebrating dishes that demonstrate root-to-leaf and nose-to-tail creativity, RescueDish aims to inspire all eaters and chefs to see delicious opportunity, where they used to see waste.
So the next time you see some “ugly” produce, maybe give it another look and a chance to beautify your plate and nourish your soul.