I remember visiting my father in California when he lived there in the late 80s and early 90s when California went through its last drought of similar significance to that of today.
I remember the news stories and the drama often seen at restaurants when water was no longer served automatically to all guests. The words “water upon request” started appearing on menus and as I recall, many recoiled at the notion of having to request God-given water…and at more exclusive restaurants…pay for it. This may have been the start of the bottled water trend, I’m not sure.
But it’s estimated that for every glass not served to a restaurant guest, 1.5-3gallons of water is saved, both directly and because of dish washing, etc. required after.
I also remember being in the pit orchestra for the musical Oliver, a story about the plight of orphaned children…hungry orphaned children. This is particularly meaningful for me of all of the theater stuff I ever did because it was the first time I did anything socially as a teenager. I was not a popular kid and I made many of my lifelong friends through my participation.
And then I remember some of the delicious breakfasts I treated myself to in the last two weeks of vacation I just returned from.
And all I saw was bREaD.
I know some of the best breakfast spots in Seattle and it is my favorite meal, next to dinner, and well behind lunch. Next to my delicious sausage gravy covered chicken fried steak and scrambled eggs from Hudson (and brisket omelet with hash browns on a second visit), I was served two toasted English muffins and a giant buttermilk biscuit with the already giant plates of food, respectively.
At Coastal Kitchen, with my smoked salmon & avocado scramble on one day, and my Sonora scramble the other, along with the giant portion of hashed browns (so good), I was served three full pieces of toast…with each meal.
I barely had any of all of it, maybe one full slide of bread and a chunk of biscuit.
The rest, as I confirmed with employees at both places, is thrown out and cannot be donated. And they are sad about it. They hate to see it all go to waste.
Our bodies, similarly, could use a reprieve. We are the most obese adult cohort in human history and when we’re already indulging on a large plate of delicious food, we don’t need to top it with what are essentially “filler flowers.”
We should move bread to a “water upon request” like model and learn to conserve and not waste, and find ways to give what has been spared to others who need it.
I’m not on a jihad against bread or bakeries. The staff at Bakery Nouveau know me by name. But when so much waste comes from vast overindulgence, it’s time to ask some questions. Do I really need the full bread basket at John Howie Steakhouse immediately before I order tempura bacon and the Juicy Lucy Burger?
I’ve asked this question many times:
“What are you doing, starting today, to change things?”
Well, here’s what I’m doing. I’m going to start a conversation with some of the connections I’ve made as a lifelong eater – about how to educate consumers and create awareness about food waste at a local level, to develop partnerships between bakers and restaurants, to give consumers a tool to say, “that’s okay, help others instead.” To hopefully help rebalance things a bit and give back to those that are hungry.
It’s my 2016 breadication. I don’t know what will come from it, but it’s at least worth a start.
That’s what I’m doing today in hopes of making a change in the world tomorrow.