Cornell Cinema will host a free screening on Monday of the late Anthony Bourdain’s documentary “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste."

September 30, 2018

Free Screening of Anthony Bourdain’s Documentary Aims to Raise Awareness About Food Waste

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Cornell Cinema will host a free screening on Monday of the late Anthony Bourdain’s documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, a project tackling food sustainability that aims to “change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food, according to its website.

The screening event is a group effort, involving sponsorship and publicity from food insecurity and environmentally-conscious organizations on campus and within the Ithaca community, according to Emily Liu ’21, the director of campus outreach for the Food Recovery Network.

Food Recovery Network is a student group that redistributes leftover food from Okenshields and RPCC to people in need in the community. 

Liu said that students and members of the Ithaca community should “be mindful that what we have — how much food we have on our tables is really a privilege” because there are people in Tompkins County who don’t have that privilege.

“One in seven people in Tompkins County, I believe, are food insecure,” she said. “Considering the amount that we waste … we should at least learn more about … how food insecurity and food waste are related.”

Feeding America reports Tompkins County’s food insecurity at 13.5 percent, which matches Liu’s estimation of one in seven people.

The Food Recovery Network and its sponsors hope to use the screening of Wasted! as an opportunity to raise awareness about food waste on and off campus, with Monday’s movie event being just a start.

Liu said she hopes the screening will serve as a “good introduction to food waste” and the issues surrounding it.

She hopes the screening will show a lot of the “behind the scenes that Cornell students typically don’t see in terms of food — in terms of issues around food”.

According to Liu, waste is the fault of both producers and consumers. At the producer level, waste mainly occurs during quality control. Liu said that a lot of the food available in supermarkets and on-campus dining halls “goes through a process of … checking whether the food is good or not … to the consumer eye.”

This means that viable food like “misshapen potatoes, misshapen carrots, misshapen apples, bruised apples — those are all thrown out, or composted, hopefully,” she said.

Cornell students also contribute to food waste at the consumer level, according to Liu.

“You’ll … see people go to dining halls and then they won’t finish their food or they’ll go to dining halls … and they’ll get more than they can eat and … that’s something that we can definitely prevent if people just took less,” she said.

She also added that “food waste isn’t just a Cornell issue. It’s very much … a global issue.”

On a national scale, the U.S. produces a massive quantity of food but only consumes a portion of the total amount.

“There’s so much production of food in the U.S., but we really don’t eat much of it … we waste 40 percent of the food that we produce,” Liu said. “That’s a pretty significant number.”

Liu also hopes the documentary will provide students with enough context of the damage that food waste causes to spur change on at least a personal scale.

The screening will be “a really good way to open your mind to issues that affect both the environment and our communities,” she said, urging students to come to the event.

The screening is free of charge and will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday at Cornell Cinema in Willard Straight Hall.