The Battle of the best chef in the world to stop throwing food at once

This is not the story of a crusade against waste generation. Who would want to eat leftovers, waste, waste...? The task that concerns us is more ambitious: to pulverize the word itself. of our kitchens and our consciences. A cultural Revolution, proclaims Massimo Bottura, chef of Osteria Francescan (three Michelin stars), in Modena, Italy. "we have to stop thinking about the ingredients as waste. Brown bananas, bruised apples, cracked vegetables... It's food. Ordinary ingredients of great interior beauty, ' says the leader of a recent movement that puts the chefs at the center of Activism against foodwaste. "Impurity is matter out of place," said anthropologist Mary Douglas. They paraphrase it: "Rubbish is unplaced food."

The numbers are pressing for change. "Every five seconds a child under the age of ten starves to death on a planet that, however, is brimming with riches. World agriculture could feed no problem to 12 billion of humans, almost twice the current population. A child who starves to death is a child killed, "he writes with hardness Jean Ziegler, special exrelator of the United Nations for the right to food, in the book Mass Destruction: Geopolitics of The Hunger (peninsula).

The great scandal of our century, as the author defines, splashes in the dustbin, where one third of the food will stop, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). the most squandered, fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, which are thrown in 45%. This is: 4 trillion apples a year with no one to eat them. In households is where more food is wasted (42% of wastefulness is gestated in our kitchens). It follows the manufacturing phase (39%), restoration (14%) and distribution (5%), according to the European Commission. Spain is the seventh EU country on this list of shame. And, according to the food consumption report in Spain 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, food and environment, spring and summer is the worst time of all.

The outer leaves of the artichoke are not pulled

"I grew up in a middle-class family. My mother bought two chickens on Wednesdays and used the liver for Thursday's salad, the whole chicken baked for Saturday and the bones for the broth of the following week, "reflects Daniel Humm, chef at Eleven Madison Park in New York. The baker Oriol Balaguer, of boutiques Oriol Balaguer and the Duchess, the memory of his mother smearing old bread with oil used in frying to give aroma of meat, softens the gesture. The chef Leandro Gil, from Restaurante Alma in Pamplona, still makes croquettes with his grandmother with leftovers from the stew. And recalls the Sundays of his childhood, "in which they cooked custard at home with fresh milk leftover and cookies and somewhat soft." Today it is never allowed to throw the outer leaves of the artichoke, but it boils a few minutes to make a broth with which to aromatize any sauce. "It's a matter of education," they agree.

"More than 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe come from food production. If the food wastage were halved, the emissions could be reduced by 5% or more, "Tristram Stuart (researcher of the Environmental History Center) of the University of Sussex, in waste. The global food scandal

The chefs have been preaching against wastefulness for years, as Ángel León (Aponiente, in Cadiz: four Michelin stars) underlines, which makes available to the industry a recipe book with a hundred applications of discard fish, those species that are Despise by mere fashions of consumption. Wolf Fish, Zalema, Pandora, Baila, Budión, Borriquete... do they ring a bell? As they are very rich fish that have become fodder, criticizes that of the port of Santa Maria.

Now, however, the time has come to transcend, to shout it to the four winds. "The chefs have become prescribers and we therefore have a responsibility to help communities grow and be more sustainable," considers Massimo Bottura. "Part of that growth goes through fighting hunger and waste. we have to get out of the kitchens, think beyond our stoves and menus, and help create a better diet. "

With the hard bread, a delicious pesto comes out

Cook with predestined ingredients to end up in the trash. This is the challenge Bottura posed to his colleagues during the 2015 Universal exhibition in Milan. the leftover food in the restaurants of the city arrived, day after day, in white vans to a social dining-room mounted on an abandoned theatre of the Greco, a humble district of the periphery of Milan. There they waited for chefs like Joan Roca, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Daniel Humm, Oriol Balaguer, Gastón Acurio or Ferran Adrià, who accepted the challenge without blinking.

And extraordinary things arose, like ice cream with past bananas for the children of the neighborhood, pesto with hard bread grated instead of pine nuts or a gazpacho full of nuances thanks to the roasting of some vegetables that are losing their grace and color, but not its flavor. With the gelatinous parts of the fish, appetizing broths were made. And with the fresh cheese that had turned sour, a delicious lemon tart.

"The magic of cooking is to create things like a broth, which is made of nothing, of a pile of bones that would go to waste. This is not just about selecting the best ingredients and putting them on the plate, "said Daniel Humm (the best chef in the World According to Restaurant magazine, in a conference that the New York Times titled can Cooks Save the planet?)

The space, which is named after Refettorio Ambrosian, is still standing, and serves, free and in collaboration with Caritas, five meals a week for the vulnerable population. The formula has been replicated in Rio de Janeiro, London, Bologna and Modena. And is about to take off in Burkina Faso. All under the brand Food for Soul, an NGO created by Bottura to designate the movement, which he prefers to define as a call to a change of mentality rather than a work of charity. "They are projects that seek to enlighten the abandoned, the discarded, the repudiated, whether it be spaces, food or people," he says.

The Adventure (or "The Milanese miracle", in the words of the Italian chef) was embodied in the book el pan es oro (Phaidon), which documents the participation of these first order cooks in Refettorio, with detailed images and recipes. All of them were the result of improvisation, as the jackets invited never knew what ingredients they were going to have. "open the fridge and live with what is the essence of the kitchen: pure creativity," reflects Balaguer, who encourages to do the experiment at home in those days when you think you have nothing. "We would be surprised at all that can be done." And it sets the example of the soft nougat of Jijona, which was born directly from the exploitation of waste: "Originally, only the hard one was made in the form of large blocks. Afterwards, it was cut with an electric saw, which caused a lot of crumbs to Desprendieran. In an attempt to reuse them, the soft nougat was invented.

It smells like revolution

The history of a country can be counted by what falls on its plate. "It reflects concerns and is the first step in much of the social changes and revolutions," notes Xavier Medina, an expert in food anthropology and Director of the UNESCO Chair on Food, culture and development. "food is the total social fact, as the sociologist Marcel Mauss said. This means that it affects all individuals and is so incardinated with the rest of the aspects of society that one cannot be understood without the other, "continues the professor of the Open University of Catalonia. Recent examples? The Arab Spring, in Tunisia, which started with the angry reaction of the people by the rise of the price of the bread. In Spain, he continues, we are living a boom of vegans movements and a new awareness around consumption, "where food and society go hand, feed."

As Fabio Parasecoli, professor of nutrition and food studies at the Steinhardt School, at the University of New York, notes, educating in the waste of food is educating in sustainability, even in the concept of circular economy. "Starting with food is a good idea, because you experience it personally at home and this helps us to think about other aspects," he adds. And if the world's No. 1 chef ever throws bread in the trash, how will someone who takes half of half of the half of it and settle for a French omelet for dinner?

"The bread should never be thrown"

The sentence belongs to Massimo Bottura, and it is given to the reality: this basic sustenance is the most squandered in restaurants. "with bread crumbs You can do pretty much everything you want. Fresh out of the oven, a bar can be eaten as is. The next day, it is perfect for making Pappa al Pomodoro [similar to bread soup]. And two days later, it will be ideal for meatballs or pastries. " As the restaurateur Ada Parellada writes in sustainable cooking. Ideas, tricks and recipes to not throw anything (Dome books), one of the problems is to associate the food only at its price: "The bread is so economical that it is more comfortable to throw away what is left to think how to recycle it. Before he was given the value of the effort, or even a religious value. And all this obliged morally to eat every last crumb. "

In the workshop of Oriol Balaguer The bread is never thrown. "At the end of the day it's mother Mass. And if the fermentation is natural, the bread of course lasts. Dry it and soak it with water, flour and salt. I add it to another bread and when toasted for the second time, it acquires new nuances, an incredible taste, "he explains. There are other products, such as the Roscón de Reyes, which, by brand positioning, Balaguer can not sell the following day. "But we make sure they get to reception centers."

Laws for Dignity

In October 2015, together with other 122 cities, the city of Madrid joined the Milan pact on urban food Policies, a voluntary treaty in which the subscribers undertake to work on the development of sustainable and inclusive food systems, "for Ensure healthy and accessible food for all people, with the specific purpose of reducing food waste and preserving biodiversity. " Within the framework of this agreement, the city Council of the capital has launched the Alpan program, an agreement signed with Rotary Club, an international organization made up of businessmen and professionals who provide humanitarian services, Social Samur and volunteers of Madrid. hotels, restaurants and catering companies donate food to three social eaters in the city, which 200 people attend every day: in 2016, 120,000 meals were served.

But the task is complicated. And it urges a legal framework. the European Parliament has called on Member States to halve the waste from 2015 to 2030, encouraging the implementation of measures such as the elimination of restrictions on donations. In Spain there is already a proposal of law approved for this purpose, that although we can and citizens have crossed out of little ambitious, is waiting for the last modifications, and everything indicates that will enter into force in the coming months. "As for the proposal not of law that calls for the modification of VAT in donated foods, it depends on the European Union, which for this has to change its directive", analyzed from the leadership center of the consultancy Llorente and Cuenca.

Meanwhile, to a small social dining room in the centre of Madrid, there is a veal stew coming from a nearby hotel. Sister Virginia, the nun who runs it, aged 70, is filling the dishes of those gathered there. "Tangerines, bread?", he offers. Gratitude is in the face of the one who receives. "This is not just about hunger. It's also about dignity. "

Decalogue to reduce waste, by José Luis Gallego, environmental discloser

1. Plan the menus of the week and make the shopping list depending on that.

2. Take advantage of creativity: keep leftovers in the fridge and look for recipes to help you use them.

3. Pay special attention to the expiration date of the products before choosing them (if you choose them from too close a date, you run the risk of early maturing).

4. Keep the refrigerator well-organized. A trick to do this is to place the first-row foods that expire before.

5. Freeze foods If you see that you will be unable to use them.

6. Adjust your recipes to the number of diners and serve moderate rations: better than on the casserole than on the plate.

7. Take advantage of plant debris to feed your plants by making compost.

8. Use Anti-wastage technology: There are programs and apps to prevent it.

9. Organize and promote lectures and responsible consumer workshops.

10. If you eat in a restaurant, choose in moderation. and take the Leftovers.