l would like to put on the table an issue of great importance today in terms of good practices in professional kitchens, which is the correct use of food products and the application of sustainable habits in professional kitchens.
Our ancestors had already carried out these practices for many years, either due to food shortages or a limited family economy. They also attached great importance to provisioning food. For example, in Spain in every household was very common to preserve cheese or cold cuts in oil.
From a very young age, I have seen how absolutely everything was used at my grandparents’ house. If they cooked a stew, from the same dish they would make soup, croquettes, and the leftovers were used to make compost or food for their own animals.
That is the main concept to understand an efficient use of the products, which today and due to lifestyle or personal circumstances is no longer practiced frequently, and therefore it affects pollution, creates more waste and the economic cost is higher.
Local and seasonal products
Whenever you can, when you go to local stores in your area, it is good to ask about seasonal and locally produced products. Although some products may be a little more expensive, their quality will always be much better than the ones from big supermarkets.
To the greatest extent, local farmers practice organic production, with the benefits that this entails for our health, for the local economy and for the community in your area.
Many of its products have a very particular and rich smell, nuances that are not found in those of foreign production.
A second chance
According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), 931 million tons of food end up in the trash every year. This is unacceptable.
Why not give a second life to food that you are not going to use? For example, you can give the leftovers to a local business to feed the animals. In my case, I collaborate with local farmers who then supply me with some products. This is what in practice we can call sustainability. I do it daily. I try to help small businesses in my area whenever I can.
As a professional chef I try to make the most of all the products I have, either by reinventing the dishes or in most cases, with the vegetables that I am no longer going to use, I turn them into vegetarian soups.
It is ok to give a second chance to some products that are reaching the end of their useful life. One of my main secrets is imagination and logic to give that second life to products and dishes, always thinking about what can be done with leftovers, vegetable cuts or meat bones. For example, if you have a handful of vegetable cuts you can combine them with some bones to make a stock for a sauce.
All these can also be done at home, on a smaller scale. There are many recipes and ideas that we can follow to make the most of products and food leftovers.
Other options are the use of different APPs that exist today for the purchase and sale of leftover food, or donating to food banks, thus helping the most disadvantaged in your community.
Recycling and avoiding ultra-processed products as much as possible is something to keep in mind as well. It is important to minimize waste and always try to prepare an accurate amount, without excesses.
To summarize, I think you have to dedicate that necessary time to make a more sustainable purchase for your kitchen. It is important to adapt our diet to the local and seasonal products and, above all, try to make the best possible use of the leftovers generated. It is the only way we will not only help our community but also Planet Earth. By consuming these types of products we will all help the economy of our area which will end up reversing into your own economy and well-being.
Francisco Rodríguez Mora
Head Chef | The Sun Inn Lydiard