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Here’s A Better Way to Axe Food Waste (Hint: It’s Not Composting!) with Andrew Shakman (Episode #130)

Many of us are conscientiously making new habits to help with the problem of climate change: recycling, making greener purchasing choices, or reducing our carbon footprint.  But did you know there is a solution well underway that can reduce 13% of greenhouse gasses if the food industry made one commitment? Yes, our guest today—Andrew Shakman—is tackling (and winning against) one problem: food waste. And this one problem that we know how to solve in a fascinating, completely new way. Hint: it is not about more composting!

Episode Highlights

About Our Guest:

Andrew is CEO and co-founder of Leanpath, a Certified B Corp with a mission to make food waste a thing of the past. Leanpath is working with restaurants, giant institutions, corporations, and governments in more than 40 countries to bring the world’s kitchens into alignment with a brighter future for us all.  

And here’s where this topic expands our way of thinking: getting restaurants and institutions like cruise lines and college campuses on board for composting is not going to solve this problem… but there are some fresh ingenious ways of looking at food waste that will.

Turns out, some amazing, common sense solutions to food waste appear once we start meticulously measuring what we waste at every level in the food production process, and the 7x Return on Investment in the first year for organizations that work with Leanpath makes it a “win” for everyone. 

Leanpath’s solution identifies root causes of food waste and changes common practices and behaviors that lead to that waste. And best of all, they use the collective wisdom of the front-line workers who are actually handling our food at every level of the supply chain, rather than sticking to the directives of executives and administrators. 

With the inspired focus of empowered kitchen crews, the work of food preparation is more efficient and impactful, leading to 90 million meals being kept in the food system.

The results speak for themselves. Since 2004, Leanpath and its foodservice partners have prevented 100 million pounds of food from going to waste, averaging a 50% reduction per kitchen. 

From the beginning, Andrew has worked to catalyze the global movement to address the food waste crisis, and it is happening… The movement is in full swing. If you haven’t heard much about it, you will soon because this is such an enormous sign of goodness and progress that is well underway!

Andrew has been featured in BusinessWeek, NPR, Forbes, and Fast Company. He has presented at the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Harvard, and the Culinary Institute of America, among hundreds of other places.

I gotta tell you, when I discovered the statistics on food waste my mind was completely blown but today Andrew is going to give us a spring in our steps by telling us why this is yet another problem that we actually—right now—know how to solve. 

Listen in to learn about this novel, thoughtful way of considering “food waste” from a more holistic, measured point of view, and learn a bit about your role in helping this cause along.

Resources Mentioned:

Show Notes

(00:00- 04:30) OPENING

(04:31- 14:20)

  • Food waste is the “elephant’ in the kitchen
  • We want to have a great, hospitable experience, and as a result of that we tend to do things that are really unbalanced and that lead to a lot of food waste
  • Food waste is the third largest cause of greenhouse gases
  • 30-40% of food that we produce, we waste
  • The opportunity of less food waste
  • The hierarchy of food waste
  • We tend to gravitate towards the things that are tangible and we can see
  • Prevention is at the top of the hierarchy
  • The stats of food waste

(14:21- 17:08) BREAK

(17:09- 26:20)

  • The Leanpath journey
  • Kitchen as a factory
  • “When you measure something, you manage it. And when you measure something, it improves.”
  • “People do what you inspect, not what you expect.”
  • Hardware solutions
  • Leanpath provides tools and support services
  • The change maker in food waste

(26:21- 40:20)

  • The food waste myths
  • Composting
  • Research of Ohio State Prof. Brian Roe
  • Donation
  • Leapath operates in large scale food operation
  • Tons of Citrus peels 
  • We don’t have all the answers on how to solve these problems, the chefs and the frontline teams have it
  • Upstate New York hospital
  • Leanpath is an Earthshot Prize nominee
  • Earthshot Prize
  • “Remember the future”

(40:21- 53:40)

  • Andrew’s story and how it mattered in the end
  • The power of narrative to drive change
  • The web (1994)
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Internet Business
  • Tech and food were in my context but I’m not sure what it was going to be
  • The 7 or 8 years of Leanpath was horrible
  • Telling stories to drive change
  • Kitchen is the theater of measurement… When we measure, it creates consciousness
  • Bringing the horizon in is about holding ourselves accountable to making the change in the short term not just the long term
  • Food waste is one of the most actionable things
  • Methane in food waste
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Every Woman Coalition

(53:41- 01:00:07)

(01:00:08- 01:00:34) CLOSING

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