Our Owners regularly get together a couple of times a month to let loose and get to know one another. Last month, we attended a screening of Anthony Bourdain’s highly anticipated new documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste”
Many of us entered the theater seeking awareness to a large problem, but we all walked out with memorable and disturbing facts that left us with some pressing questions: How can one make a change, & how can Chicago Market influence others to make a change?
- In the US, 40% of the food that is produced is going to waste.
- Over 90% of wasted food in the US ends up in landfills.
- The annual cost for food waste is 1 trillion dollars.
- We don't need to produce more, we need to act differently
- The thing we should never be doing is to send food waste into landfills where food waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen which produces methane, a gas which is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
After the film, a discussion led by our Zero Waste Committee was held at Virgin Hotel’s cafe. As individual Owners, we reflected over the above statements and discussed how we can do a better job of reducing our food waste and waste in general through:
- Planning our grocery shopping better and hence only buy what we need.
- Compost from our homes by registering for a pick up service, such as Collective Resource and Urban Canopy.
- Some Owners shared their practice of carrying mason jars and bulk bags whenever they buy from bulk in order to reduce the amount of packaging.
Although meal prepping has been preached as a way to reduce food waste & save money, some of us admitted to buying meals out more frequently for the convenience. So although we discussed individual ways we could make changes to help reduce waste from our households, what steps can we do to promote change in our community?
The end of our discussion circled back to our values of Chicago Market, specifically for sustainability and how our future grocery store should aim towards zero waste. Once our site location is confirmed, we would have the opportunity to educate customers on a daily basis. We can promote customers bring their own tote bags and mason jars to reduce material waste; if they don’t have any, we would offer a variety of tote bags and mason jars for storage of goods. Although many food manufacturers have gotten into the habit of labeling items with a stamped “Best if used by MM/YY” or “Use by MM/ YY”, we’d like to educate shoppers how to interpret these notices and understand their food actually has a longer life. If items in the store were approaching their stamped dates, we could offer reduce pricing on the items or even use the food in a community cooking class.
We could also:
- Have partnerships with farms helping them to take care of their food waste by preserving and/or selling “ugly foods” at a reduced price
- Have strong partnerships with food pantries
- Give store food waste (not edible for humans) to farms to be used as animal feed.
- No plastic utensils/straws/containers in the store - and have takeout containers and such made of something compostible.
- Offer a recycling and composting service in connection to the store.
If you weren’t able to attend the film screening with us, we hope your household will make time to watch it in theaters or from the comfort of your own home.