I have never liked to waste ANYthing. Food, money, time, or energy. I definitely don't want to waste my life, because I believe life is precious.
So it bothers me when I see how incredibly much waste is still being created by humans, today, even though we KNOW that we simply can not continue to do this to our planet.
Since I have a small cafe, I have become even more interested in sustainability. I actually became an advocate for natural, whole foods, and simple, waste-free meals over thirty years ago, when I attended La Leche League as a young mom. But even earlier than that, my mother raised chickens and sold the eggs, my dad had an enormous vegetable garden in our home state of New Jersey, and we spent our summers at the beach, so I learned that fresh vegetables, freshly caught fish, and farm-raised eggs can not be matched by supermarket produce.
One problem we face as consumers is that when we shop or eat out, we really don't know where things are manufactured, or how they are packaged. We also don't know how the waste is handled.
This NPR program is just a few minutes long ... Click on the link and you can listen or just read it:
It describes what happens to restaurant food waste... about a half-pound per meal served. From the horrors of the dumpster filled with rotting food (which could have been donated, composted, or fed to animals), increases in the population of insects and vermin, methane gases, and landfill overflow.. it adds up to one of the biggest environmental problems we have!
There are actually a few restaurants that go to the time and expense of packaging and donating the untouched food to food pantries. Olive Garden and Red Lobster are two that were mentioned.
Because the Little Red Hen Cafe is small, it's much easier for me to stick to my values. If I keep my menu small, serve fresh, local foods that don't come with excess packaging, compost scraps and recycle everything I can, I have only a few small bags of trash in my dumpster per week (also, there is almost never anything left on my customers' plates, which makes me very happy!)
I hope that as the operation expands, I can continue to stick to the things I believe in. Meanwhile, it's something we can all think about.