One food service worker shared an upsetting photo of the incredible amount of food waste their workplace generates every day.
The employee posted their experience on r/KitchenConfidential, a subreddit for food service professionals to discuss and vent about their work. Several posts about food waste have cropped up — unsurprising since it’s such a problem in the restaurant industry.
“We average 80 pounds of waste a night,” this employee declared, attaching a photo of a trash can at their workplace. The commercial-sized can is filled to the brim with nothing but food, including shredded carrots, diced tomatoes, grilled hot dogs, and other food items.
In a comment, the original poster added context to make sense of the enormous quantity of food. “It’s an extremely high volume place. Someone asked how busy we were the other day and I told them we were dead… Dead for us is 30 people.”
Even so, the waste is frustrating to see. Every bit of food that gets thrown away denies a potential customer a meal while also costing the business money. Those costs get passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Meanwhile, our farms and ranches have to use more resources to produce extra food to make up for the waste, which means more pollution and poorer water conservation.
Despite these problems, food waste isn’t a new issue in the industry. It can also be surprisingly complicated to solve. Some of the food being thrown out is customers’ leftovers, which can’t safely be eaten by anyone else. Some of it may be expired, and even if it isn’t, the company may not be able to guarantee it is safe to eat.
Luckily, there are solutions. Services such as Too Good to Go help restaurants make food available at a discount when it’s close to its sell-by date. Some companies donate food that’s in danger of going bad. Even if they don’t, scraps can be composted to help grow new food.
Other commenters weren’t so fortunate. “My place probably does double that on an average night between pans of dead food from the kitchen and food wasted by customers,” one user said. “We don’t even compost either, it all ends up in the same trash bags. And as a mere dishie, I have no power to change anything.”
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