Valencian chefs cook ‘ugly vegetables’ to combat food waste

by Lorraine Williamson
food waste



VALENCIA – Although many companies have taken steps to reduce food waste, it remains a persistent problem in Spanish households and catering establishments. An average of 1.4 billion kilos of food is thrown away every year.

Valencian chefs have therefore joined forces to do something about this. Chefs María José Martínez (Lienzo, one Michelin star), Susana Salvador (Bar Ricardo) and Vanesa Lledó (Mil Grullas) prepared 200 menus with “ugly” vegetables. These are vegetables that are normally not sold and are thrown away.

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The dishes consisted of an escalibada (a traditional dish from Catalan cuisine with peppers, aubergines, onions and sometimes grilled potatoes or salted cod), a chicken stew with root vegetables and a peach panacotta. The ingredients were donated by farmers from the Mercavalencia market, who normally do not offer these ‘ugly’ vegetables.

Collaboration and awareness

The initiative was organised by the EVAP association in collaboration with the following;

  • Valencia market
  • Women in Gastronomy foundation
  • Butchers’ guild
  • Food bank

The aim was to make citizens aware of the importance of responsible consumption. The association is also working on an e-book with sustainable recipes, developed by its more than 400 members.

A bigger platform

The ugly vegetables initiative coincides with a recent event in Valencia that put food waste on the agenda. Raschad Al-Khafaji, director of the FAO in Brussels, highlighted the “worrying” level of food waste and called for greater awareness.

Role models in gastronomy

Chef Ricard Camarena, known for his sustainable cuisines, was one of the speakers at the event. He explained that he only cooks with what the season has to offer. Furthermore, he uses all parts of a vegetable or fruit to prepare his dishes.

‘Nothing more painful than throwing away food’

Carlos Mundina, the Valencian councillor for Climate Improvement, Water Management and Agriculture, said at the opening of the event that the food waste figures were “food for thought”. He stressed that there is “nothing more painful than throwing away food when there are so many people suffering from malnutrition.”

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