Anthony Bourdain Takes On Global Food Waste In New Documentary

In his newest documentary, Anthony Bourdain takes on the global food waste problem, one of the biggest culprits in climate change as well as a contributor to food insecurity.


May 22 2019, Updated 8:55 a.m. ET

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Source: Jeremy Leach/Wasted

Anthony Bourdain wants you to rethink your relationship to food. In his new documentary, WASTED! The Story of Food Waste, Bourdain tackles head-on the industry that has made him so successful in order to change how we shop for, prepare, and consume food. The film is set to be released Oct. 13 on iTunes and in select theaters.

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Food is one of the biggest culprits in the climate change crisis. 

More than 1 billion tons of food are thrown out in the trash every year, equating to about $218 billion worth of meals not being eaten. In the United States, a quarter of our water and 4 percent of our oil is used to produce food that ultimately just ends up in a landfill without ever having made it to the plate.   

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Food in a landfill is packed in so tight with municipal solid waste, air can’t get to it. Anaerobic decomposition creates methane, which is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas.

Bourdain seeks to change that by jumping into the zero-waste ring and forcing people to rethink what they consider garbage.

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Often, the food we waste is perfectly viable—and delicious.  

The feature-length documentary takes a deep dive into the restaurant industry, talking to chefs Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Danny Bowien and Massimo Bottura about how they run their kitchens while combating food waste.   

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Specifically, the chefs discuss how they use food scraps, undesirable produce (including stems and leaves) and other traditional food “waste” into gourmet dishes. Their collective goal is to create delicious meals that make a more sustainable food system while preventing food waste that ends up in landfills.

The documentary also steps outside of the restaurant industry, covering the epidemic of food waste present in farming and fishing industries, supermarket chains, and even in school cafeterias.

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WASTED! additionally reinforces the idea that consumers hold tremendous power in the fight against food waste. By adjusting how we buy, prepare, eat and dispose of food, we can all participate in lessening the amount of food that gets wasted at home, in our neighborhoods, and across the world.

WASTED! isn’t about activism—it’s about common sense. 

For Bourdain, making the film was about more than making a difference.

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“I am most definitely not an activist,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, “and I somewhat studiously avoid anything with a message, but this problem of food waste is something that goes against my years of training as a cook. I come from a very old-school background, and the first rule of classic French cuisine is, use everything. So the idea that this much of most delicious ingredients is being wasted was already deeply offensive to me. Then, of course, as a person who spent the majority of the past 16 or 17 years traveling all over the world and seeing often very hungry people doing the best they can with very little, it was kind of personal for me.”

Here’s to hoping that having a decidedly unactivist-y celebrity face on a movie about waste can inspire the masses to sit up and take notice.

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