Downtown restaurants strive to conserve food waste
The largest category of solid waste going into Georgia’s landfills is food waste. In 2010 there were 34 million tons of food waste alone, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Restaurants can do a lot to conserve food waste, and several restaurants in downtown Milledgeville have established protocols and procedures to prevent wasting food.
“We do a lot of bagging of food, so when it is time to send out, we have exact measurements. It makes sure we are not over using any products,” Jon Joiner, co-owner of Amici, said.
Aubri Lanes also uses portion control to prevent food waste.
“We pre-portion everything in its own bag, and it is weighed out so that we can cut down on waste,” Adam Meade, head chef at Aubri Lanes said.
Controlling small products plays a large part in overall food waste prevention.
Amici used to automatically put celery sticks with their wings, but they noticed that a lot of celery was getting wasted because not every customer wanted celery with their wings.
“Now, instead of putting celery with the wings, we ask the customers if they want celery with their wings, and that saves just simple things,” Joiner said.
Aubri Lanes also reuses and recycles some of their left over food and meat scraps to create new dishes, stocks and oils.
“We will take our left over grits, mashed potatoes or rice, and we will either use them for soups or we will make different foods out of them like potato couchettes, which is just old mashed potatoes, and we freshen them up, obviously” Meade said.
Saving food means saving money. Amici has what they call a food waste sheet, which is more for financial purposes, but it also serves to help with overall food waste.
“If anything gets wasted, if something gets burnt, if something gets dropped on the floor or is not servable, then I put it on the food waste sheet because I have to pay for it somehow,” Joiner said. “Then, what I do is I go through my inventory at the end of the month and look at the food waste, and if there is something that is becoming a problem I can address it.”
Amici makes a lot of donations to organizations in the community and organizations on campus. In the past, Amici has held an event, “Show us your Cans,” to promote donating non-perishable food items around the holiday season.
“The first year we did it, it went so well that the lady from the food bank came to us and asked us to do it again,” Joiner said.
Aubri Lanes is working with the local food bank, and they are in the process of planning to donate food such as mashed potatoes and soups at the end of each week. The restaurant is also working with local farms to try to obtain more fresh products.
“We got some pork from (Fall Line Farmers Market) about a month ago,” Meade said. “We are also working on a plan where they will grow whatever we ask them to; they give us a little plot, and then they grow it for us.”
Aubri Lanes also buys most of its fish and seafood locally.
“The trout on our menu is only from north Georgia or South Carolina. So everything we do pretty much stays in the area,” Meade said. “When we get oysters we only get Gulf oysters.”
Kaity Vandenberg, senior outdoor education major wishes more downtown restaurants would purchase from local farmers and farmer’s markets.
“Buying from local farmers would be ideal, it would just mean that restaurant owners would have to pay a little extra a little more often,” Vanderburg said. “It has the potential to boost both restaurants’ economic gain as well as the local growers.”
Amici and Aubri Lanes do a substantial job conserving food waste.
“We use everything as much as possible, and the trashcans are pretty empty at the end of the night,” Meade said.
Amici has been open since 1999, and this year is its 13th year being open. Joiner said they have done a pretty good job knowing how much product they go through.
Daniel Sitaras, senior environmental science major said the easiest way to conserve food is through recycling and composting.
“A lot of restaurants just throw food away in dumpsters and don’t sort out what could be composted or recycled,” Sitaras said.