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Food waste is a global issue that has serious environmental, economic and social implications. It is estimated that about 40% of all food produced is wasted each year and that 1 in 6 people in the United States does not know where their next meal will come from. Although food is lost throughout the entire food supply chain (farm, processing, retail, consumer, etc.), in high-income countries the majority of food waste is generated toward the end of the chain, primarily by post-consumer activities.

At the consumer level, perishable fruits and vegetables are the most commonly wasted foods, followed by dairy and meat products. This means that not only are the food products and the energy required to produce them going to waste, but also the money spent on purchasing these items is going down the drain. Despite an alarming portion of U.S. food products ending up in landfills, the food industry is content to produce and sell more food items as they continue to generate larger profits. Because of this, we believe that any significant change must begin with the consumer, as changes at this level can influence food waste reduction in other areas of the supply chain.

While changing consumer behavior seems like a daunting task, it can be achieved by helping households make smarter choices in the kitchen. To encourage people to waste less food and save more money, we have created a cookbook that focuses on fighting food waste at the consumer level by providing simple, accessible recipes. The initial concept of this project was to create a cookbook to help guide and inspire students and young cooks at our university. However, we believe it is a great resource for anyone hoping to reduce food waste by cooking simple, delicious recipes using food scraps, leftovers and other ingredients that are often considered trash.

This website’s pages reflect the cookbooks skeleton, diving recipes into two sections, one focusing on food scrap recipes and the other on recipes for repurposing leftover food. Fruit and vegetable scraps are the stars of the food scrap recipe section, since the abundant remainders of these food groups are often disregarded. The repurposed food section of the cookbook features recipes that transform common leftovers into tasty dishes.

Many of the recipes in this cookbook were created, prepared and tasted by the authors of this book and fellow students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; while others were inspired and adapted from recipes found on food waste reduction websites and blogs. All of the tips and recipes in this cookbook will be made available on this site in addition to step-by-step instructional videos for select recipes. Cooking with food scraps entails thinking outside of the box, breaking the rules and getting creative in the kitchen, so we encourage experimentation and modification of these recipes to fit your tastes and needs!

This cookbook has been made possible by the support and guidance of our instructors, Tyler Lark and Holly Gibbs, as well as by the advice and feedback of our fellow classmates. We are also thankful to Slow Food, FH King and other student organizations at UW-Madison for their interest and support in helping us to encourage others to reduce food waste.

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