It could be said that his notoriety now outweighs his vast expertise, but that would be something of a misnomer. Anthony Bourdain graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and soon enough became a noted executive chef in some of the world’s greatest kitchens. He broke into television as the host of the Food Network’s A Cooks Tour, then did a stint on the Travel Channel, before switching to CNN in 2013 to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He’s also the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books.
News of his new documentary leaked out a short while ago. Titled, WASTED: The Story of Food Waste!, his project is creating keen attention.
As well it should. A recent report in Foodtank reminds us the one-third of food produced globally for human consumption is never eaten – a total of 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization says that we could just recover one-quarter of that food it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people. And Canada? According to the independent think tank Value Chain Management Centre, Canadians toss out $27 billion worth of good food. Half of that total comes from households.
We’ve known this for years but progress against such waste has been glacial. That’s why the intervention of Bourdain takes on special importance. His show is viewed by millions and his educational skills are impressive. And he’s concerned about the American waste problem. He grew incensed when he learned that America spend $218 billion (USD) in growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten. It didn’t help when he learned that wasted food generates climate change pollution that equals 37 million cars per year.
Thus, his documentary. As he put it in his press release regarding, WASTED: The Story of Food Waste:
“This is an important and informative film and a project I’m proud to be part of. Chefs have been at the cutting edge of efforts to contend responsibly with the problem of food waste, perhaps because they, more than others, are painfully aware of the egregious volume of perfectly usable, nutritious food that could otherwise feed people in need, being thrown out in our restaurants.”
The film doesn’t expose the extent of the problem. Bourdain looks around the world for locations that are coming up with solutions. It makes sense, for, as Bourdain himself put it, he’s not just into exposing the problem but changing people’s mindset about how they handle every aspect of their procurement, preparing and disposal of food.
Bourdain is a fighter by nature and practice, having received a blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He most recently won gold one such event in New York in 2016. This time, his struggle isn’t against one opponent but an entire generation of affluent consumers who need to start contemplating what such waste says about their choices.