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Food Waste Prevention with VFN Member Chefs

April 4, 2024

April 1-7, 2024 is Food Waste Prevention Week! Vermont Fresh Network member King Arthur Baking is raising awareness for food waste prevention by hosting a Bread to Tap Pizza Party at their Norwich cafe and bakery. This event will illustrate some of the ways food waste prevention can lead to innovative and exciting culinary experiences.

Brownsville Butcher & Pantry will be onsite with their pizza truck, featuring toppings made from foods like blemished produce and mushroom stems that might typically go to waste. Harpoon Brewery will also be tapping a pilot batch of beer brewed with bread discard from the bakery. Plus, cafe guests will enjoy live music all afternoon!

King Arthur is generously donating a portion of the proceeds from this event to VFN, in support of our programs and mission to strengthen Vermont's food system. VFN will also be onsite with an informational table to spread the word about our current projects, programs, and members - if you're in the Norwich area this weekend, come by and say hello!

We asked King Arthur, as well as several other VFN member chefs, to share some of their tips, tactics, and ideas they use to reduce and prevent food waste in their own kitchens.

"One of the best ways to get to some chefs about waste prevention is to talk about it from a money perspective. We try to reuse product as much as possible. I challenge my cooks to create something different for our family meal with some leftovers - potato peelings can turn to potato skins, fennel fronds can be used to make pesto, when butchering pork racks use the trimming to make chorizo, grind beef trims and make burgers, I make sorbets from over ripe fruit and berries. My cooks enjoy the challenge, we have less waste, and we use as much of the product that our farmers grew so they know their work is appreciated. Also, having a smaller menu and cross utilizing product in different ways on the menu prevents waste."

-Sigal Rocklin, The Reluctant Panther


"A bulk of our compost goes to Cookeville Compost​ – a composting facility at Sandberg Farm in Corinth, VT. Bob, the owner, has been picking up food waste for over 14 years then sells the finished compost at his farm. His daughter now helps with the operations as well."

-King Arthur Baking kitchen team


"Edelweiss Mountain Deli is a scratch-made prepared foods to go and specialty food retail business. We work with and purchase from as many local producers as possible. Our food waste prevention / reduction practices begin long before food is purchased. Understanding business basics such as customer preferences / menu planning, demand, pricing, seasonality and storage capacity help to ensure rightsized food inventories. It's all about communication, including ongoing culinary team dialogue / coordination and consistent, clear labeling procedures.
We go to great lengths to consider how to incorporate food items that might typically go to waste. For example, we closely monitor prepared foods against their “best by” dates. If we see that some item is not moving as quickly as necessary, we will either incorporate that item into a special and / or reduce the price. The good news is that because we forecast effectively and produce such small batches, we rarely find ourselves having to employ this tactic.
Knowing that it was going to be legislated, we began composting long before it became law. Initially we worked with Grow, a small start-up, which, in turn, grew its business through the creation / sale of value-added products such as nutrient-rich soils. However, today we work with a large provider as recent industry consolidation has led to diminished choice.
Our primary approach to prepared foods is a commitment to small batch production. When we limit supply, we consider it a success to quickly sell through any given menu item. To that end, we continuously prep small batches to ensure freshness and increase the likelihood of selling through. Finally, proper pricing determines sell through success.
As a to go restaurant, we encourage customers to customize as they desire all food that we prepare for them in real time (eg sandwiches). We also clearly label prepared foods to go."
-Jeff Clarke, Edelweiss Mountain Deli


The Food Waste Prevention website has additional resources, webinars, and articles about the intersections of food waste with food security, climate, and a variety of other issues, as well as tactics for preventing and reducing food waste.

Thank you to Flavor Plate for donating their time and effort to the design and co-development of our website.