Some of the most powerful people on the planet ate the food we throw away and leave to rot at supermarkets for their lunch on Sunday.
About 30 world leaders — including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Francois Hollande — were served “landfill salads” made out of vegetable scraps for a high-level working lunch at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. They were also given water drained from cans of chickpeas, burgers made from vegetables thrown away for being below quality standards, French fries produced using corn typically used as animal feed, and desserts consisting of coffee cherry pulp, cocoa bean shells and leftover nut skins.
The menu was created by award-winning chef Dan Barber and the former executive director of first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, Sam Kass.
The goal of the lunch was to highlight the role of food waste as an “overlooked aspect of climate change,” Ban said at a press conference Sunday. The meal was served to the world leaders after they adopted 17 new Sustainable Development Goals Friday, and created 169 targets, to hit by 2030, which focus heavily on the need to tackle climate change and end poverty and hunger worldwide.
The leaders will head to Paris to further these talks at a U.N. Climate Change Conference from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015.
Manufacturing, distributing and consuming food, and disposing of food uses energy, which mostly come from fossil fuels, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and by extension global warming, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy used in food production and by the agricultural industry contributes as much to climate change as transportation does, Ban noted in his statement.
Yet, over one billion tons of edible food — or over one-third of all the food produced in the world — is wasted as it rots in fields, spoils in markets or is simply thrown away when consumers buy too much, National Geographic reported in January.
The amount of food wasted in the world is “shameful when so many suffer from hunger,” Ban said.
Barber, one of the chefs, hoped that the lunch would inspire world leaders to tackle the food waste problem from the top down. “The long-term goal of this [meal] would be not to [be able to] create a waste meal,” Barber reported the Washington Post. “You don’t do that by lecturing — you do it by hedonism, by making these world leaders have a delicious meal that will make them think about spreading that message.”