Chef Vũ Văn Sơn from Chapa Boutique Hanoi Hotel makes cookies from peels of potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. — VNS Photo Khánh Dương
HÀ NỘI — Vũ Văn Sơn truly lives by the motto "waste not, want not".
The chef at a hotel in Hà Nội doesn't throw the peelings from potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots away but uses them to make vegan cookies and reduce food waste.
“Many people often throw away the peels but they don’t know that the fruit peels are very nutritious.
“After cleaning the peels, I grind them, add sweet or salty seasoning, mix with flour, make them into small balls and then deep dry. The foreign guests at my hotel like them very much.”
The idea came to Sơn as a way to help his hotel save expenses.
In Việt Nam, fruits, vegetables, bread, eggs, milk and meat are the most-wasted and discarded food items.
A survey in major agricultural regions of Việt Nam showed fruit and vegetables account for the worst food loss in the country with about 7.3 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables lost every year, equal to 32 per cent of production.
The second worst food loss group is meat with about 694,000 tonnes lost each year or 14 per cent of production, followed by fish and seafood with 804,000 tonnes lost per year or 12 per cent of production.
“Food loss and waste come from small actions like trimming off carrots’ top ends too much or not preserving food well, making it rotten,” Sơn told Việt Nam News.
It is estimated that about a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted from the farm to the fork around the world, causing US$940 billion of economic losses per year.
In Việt Nam, during the first quarter of 2018, a quarter of food produced is lost before it reaches processing plants or distribution centres.
The total annual losses are about 8.8 million tonnes of food or $3.9 billion, equivalent to 2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic consumption (GDP) or 12 per cent of Vietnamese GDP in the agricultural sector.
“Food loss and waste can be seen everywhere, at households or hotels, restaurants but the most important thing is who can recognise it and take action.
“If we save food, we can save a third or a quarter of the money spent on buying new food,” Sơn said.
For almost 10 years, Sơn and other chefs at Chapa Boutique Hanoi Hotel have taken advantage of food materials that many think can no longer be used to make new dishes, for example, grinding leftover bread and mixing it with seasoning to make breadcrumbs.
“Fresh fruit is used for making juice or salad. What about fruit that is crushed while being transported?
“We slice that fruit into pieces and make it into jams or vinegar. So we have tasty food like pineapple jam and apple jam.”
Sơn estimated that one kilo of jam bought from other sources costs about VNĐ200,000 ($8.7), but the ingredients to make a kilo cost only VNĐ30,000-35,000 ($1.3-1.5).
“As our hotel makes hundreds of kilos of jams each year, the money we can save is huge,” he said.
Pizza from leftover rice
September 29 this year is the first time Việt Nam and the world will celebrate International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.
According to the UN World Food Programme, the worldwide loss and waste of a third of food is awful given the fact that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could double this year to 265 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Việt Nam has committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal related to food loss and waste, and launched a national action plan which includes food loss reduction target by 2025, Vietnamese households, hotels and restaurants have come up with various initiatives to reduce food waste.
Tupperware Vietnam, a food and drink plastic container company, has launched a campaign to raise awareness and support housewives to change food storage habits and reduce food waste by switching from plastic bags to containers.
Students and parents of Vinschool have made use of leftover rice to make tasty dishes.
Hà Anh, an eighth-grader of Vinschool, and her classmates make new dishes from leftover rice for their daily meals, picnics and parties.
“We mix leftover rice with eggs and fry them to make pizza bases. Then we add topping like corn and sausages and enjoy it,” Hà Anh said.
“Vietnamese people eat a lot of rice and also leave a lot of rice after meals. Instead of throwing it away, we can create a lot of new delicious dishes from rice.
Students of Vinschool make pizzas and snacks from leftover rice. —VNS Photo Khánh Dương
“For anyone who gets bored of eating rice, they can make popcorn flakes or snacks added with seasoning and shredded seaweed.”
“Wasting food not only causes food loss but also poses risks to the environment. My friends and I at Vinschool also make edible and decomposing straws from rice,” Hà Anh said.
The students’ idea is an example of food loss and waste reduction in the household, from which 44 per cent of food loss in the world comes.
All of those creative ideas were showcased at an exhibition in Hà Nội last weekend as part of the campaign 'Action against Food Loss and Waste' launched by Danish Embassy in Việt Nam and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Both countries have committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal which targets cutting global food waste by half at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses by 2030.
Kim Hojlund Christensen, Danish Ambassador to Việt Nam, said prevention of food loss and waste has been a national priority of Denmark since 2010.
“Danish experts are happy to share innovative ideas and technologies gained during the past 10 years to inspire not only the food producers and processors in Việt Nam but also the local consumers.
“I hope that this campaign will help to raise awareness and highlight the fundamental importance of responsible food production and consumption in achieving a sustainable and prosperous world for all,” he said. — VNS