Saturday, February 15, 2020

#46 / Zero Waste

As you can see from the illustration, the James Beard Foundation has published a whole book on "how to get the most from your food." The title of the book is Waste Not

Beard, who died in 1985, was "an American cook, cookbook author, teacher and television personality." The James Beard Foundation was created "to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone."

I did not begin this blog posting with the idea that I would be highlighting James Beard and the James Beard Foundation. My plan was simply to address an old adage, "Waste Not, Want Not." This saying is sometimes attributed to Ben Franklin, but is apparently of a more ancient origin.

An article in The New York Times, published on January 2, 2020, stimulated me to want to make a comment on the phrase "Waste Not, Want Not." The article, interestingly enough, also focused on food and food preparation. It was titled, "A Restaurant With No Leftovers." As I looked for an image to go along with my "Zero Waste" title, it seemed particularly appropriate to commandeer a picture of the book shown above.

What I really want to suggest is that the inspiring "zero-waste" policy of the Rhodora restaurant, featured in The Times article, is exactly the goal that we should each be striving for, individually, and that we should be pursuing, collectively. In my opinion, this is a social, political, and economic objective that should be right up there with "Medicare for All." 

Perhaps my recent experience with Christmas has made me sensitive to this topic. 

It would be hard to think of a more wasteful day of celebration. That's my feeling, anyway, and I believe that others would agree, and that the words of John Lennon articulate a common perception. Surely, "I am not the only one" who thinks that we need to stop wasting the world's resources in such a profligate way. Christmas gifts, and gift wrappings, and restaurant food waste are handy examples of the problem, and they are easy to reference. The issue, though, is a general one. We need to achieve "zero-waste" everywhere, which means (first thing) that we have to devote a lot more attention to the first of those "three Rs." They are, if you haven't heard the news: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

In that order. That means a lot less consumption!

A book review in The Wall Street Journal, also published on January 2, 2020, cites a book by Kyle Chayka that advances the proposition that Americans are "longing for less." Would that we would all start doing that! 

Our civilized life ultimately depends upon the Natural World, which does have limits. This means that we need to start making "Waste Not, Want Not" a high-priority objective for ourselves, and for our society. I really do think that what the Rhodora restaurant is doing is truly "inspiring." Presuming that The Times is telling us the truth (and I think it is), this restaurant in Brooklyn doesn't even have a trash container. It's truly "zero-waste." That is an article worth reading, if you can slip past The Times paywall. 

And if you want to start supporting an organization that is promoting the "zero-waste" idea in California, connect up with Californians Against Waste. I used to be on the Board of Directors. Zero waste is the goal. We are long way from that, and we need to do better!

If Rhodora can do it, we all can!

Image Credits:
(1) -
(2) - Gary Pattonn personal photo

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