The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Bar­ber sees his pop-up as an ex­ten­sion of his phi­los­o­phy that chal­lenges Amer­i­cans to rad­i­cally re­think what is ac­cept­able and un­ac­cept­able to eat. "In Amer­ica we come with this blessed land­scape, this Gar­den of Eden ... with in­cred­i­ble soils, tem­per­ate cli­mate, pre­dictable rain­fall, and we pro­duce a ton of food. And be­cause of that we were never forced into the kind of ne­go­ti­a­tions that suck up waste," he said. That ex­plains the "wasted spe­cial" served up by one of Bar­ber's guest chefs, Bill Telepan of the Up­per West Side restau­rant Telepan. He fash­ioned his plate of tuna on a bed of sal­vaged radish greens, in­cor­po­rat­ing them into a pesto, slic­ing the radish into the dish and us­ing the usu­ally tossed blood line of the fish in an aioli.

Grant Baldwin and his wife, who live in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia, filmed them­selves living on dis­carded and culled food for six months for their doc­u­men­tary "Just Eat It." They did their share of dump­ster div­ing — head­ing to un­locked bins of whole­salers for the best finds. And they came up with some trea­sures: car­tons of eggs with plenty of time left on ex­pi­ra­tion, boxes of pricey choco­late bars tossed be­cause they did not have the req­ui­site EnglishFrench la­bel­ing re­quired in Canada, and a moun­tain of pack­aged hum­mus still in con­tain­ers but per­fectly ed­i­ble. "The whole rea­son that we did the project was to prove the food was good," Baldwin said. "Every­body talks about how 40 per­cent of food is wasted, but to see it in the bins is an­other thing. Eat­ing from dump­sters is not a good life­style for any­one. It's a ter­ri­ble life­style. The point is the food shouldn't be in the bins to begin with."

Baldwin thinks rigid stan­dards for date la­bels on pack­aged foods serve to mud­dle the ed­i­bil­ity is­sue, wrongly con­vinc­ing peo­ple that per­fectly good food is no longer safe to eat. And ap­pear­ance re­mains a huge stum­bling block in the pro­cess­ing and pack­ag­ing of food, with re­tail­ers de­mand­ing ex­act­ing uni­form stan­dards that have grow­ers and mid­dle­men toss­ing 20 to 70 per­cent of ship­ments in some cases.

Michael Muzyk knows that first-hand. He's the pres­i­dent of Baldor Spe­cialty Foods, a dis­trib­u­tor and pro­ces­sor of pro­duce in the South Bronx serv­ing high-end ho­tels and restau­rants. Baldor has made strides in re­pur­pos­ing his own wasted food, us­ing nat­u­ral en­zymes to de­hy­drate byprod­ucts be­fore they hit land­fills. The com­pany is also a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to City Har­vest, which feeds the hun­gry in New York City us­ing res­cued food. "Will there be 100 chefs to­mor­row say­ing 'I want to fol­low Dan Bar­ber's lead?' I hope so," he said.






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