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Fighting food waste one plate at a time

Up to 50 per cent of food produced in the world is wasted. Three Whistler companies fight back

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Dangerfield goes on to state the importance of storage. Packing fish on ice in a refrigerator, for example, prolongs its life by keeping its temperature lower; Alta Bistro also uses a vacuum sealer to reduce the oxidization of meat, even root vegetable can prolonged this way.  

"Even simple things like baking will enable people to understand food aging. It's incredible that so many places, they're not dating stuff. When was something made?" he said.

Other ideas they implement include making their own in-house pickled vegetables and jams.

"In the end, only vegetable peels and egg shells go in the garbage. Even shellfish, the shells and heads are used for stock. Everything can be eaten," Dangerfield said.

"This approach is the way of the future. With limited resources you have to get more efficient. That's all there is to it."

Richard Samaniego, the executive sous chef at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort, tries to implement efficiencies with food planning at the other end of the scale. During the Christmas period the hotel can serve up to 1,500 meals a day through their banquets and restaurants.

"And our employee cafeteria is probably our busiest restaurant in the hotel," he said, feeding up to 400 per day.

"For plated banquets we almost have zero waste, and when it comes to buffets there will be a little bit of waste, but what we do with what we have left over is it goes down to our employee cafeteria."  

The Fairmont standard policy is for five per cent overage in food, and the fact that it is a big operation makes it simpler, Samaniego said.

"Probably the most important thing that we do is order appropriately. We know what our banquet business is going to be several days before it actually happens, so we calculate and weigh things and know what the portions are when we do the production of meals," he added.

"It helps with us when we're doing the preparations that we're not spending too much labour on peeling potatoes, for example. I have all these calculations in my head. For 100 people I need 40 pounds of potatoes if I am making mashed potatoes. That's pretty darned close to the exact amount."

The hotel's bartenders juice limes, lemons and oranges for fresh juice to make cocktails and rinds from the citrus fruit go to make the hotel's marmalade.

"We try as much as possible to use everything up. It really comes down to our bottom line. If we're throwing food away it affects our business," he said.

Lana Martin of Sea to Sky Organics said any leftover fresh produce from their deliveries goes to the Helping Hands Society in Squamish, which feeds the homeless.

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