Breweries redefine wasted

At Toast Ale, Tristram Stuart and his team of toasters are changing what it means to get wasted. 

At Toast Ale, Tristram Stuart and his team of toasters are changing what it means to get wasted. 

An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food gets lost or wasted each year, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. That’s about 200 times the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza, 1500 times the Golden Gate Bridge, and 3500 times the Empire State Building––or in simpler terms: way too much.

What if we could recapture some of this––the "ugly" fruits and vegetables, "old" sourdough from bakeries, "expired" sandwich bread from stores––and turn it into a conversation?

That’s the kind of question that gave rise to Toast, a U.K.-based brewery founded in 2016 by Tristram Stuart, a well-known food waste crusader famous for his 2012 TEDtalk.

Toast’s Craft Lagers, Pale Ales and Session IPAs are mostly made from the heel ends of bread loaves. Since recipe testing began in 2016, Toast has brewed 15,000 gallons of beer in England using 13,200 pounds of bread. All of its profits go to Stuart’s food waste campaigning organization, Feedback, which works internationally "to change society’s attitude toward wasting food."

At Toast, it’s messaging that’s important. "Chief toaster" Rob Wilson repeats phrases like "getting wasted on waste" and "you have to throw a better party than the people who are destroying the planet." More than anything, Toast wants to wake people up––give us the chance to make ethical choices. That’s why each of Toast’s bottles contains a list of food waste statistics and its website offers homebrewers a special recipe to try themselves.

Make it easy to do the right thing

As Dr. Roni Neff, a researcher at John’s Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future, points out, the majority of food waste awareness campaigns today, "are focused on what we can do differently as consumers" to prevent the problem altogether. Buy only what you plan to cook that week; don’t grocery shop on an empty stomach––you’ve heard these more than once by now.

All of these recommendations are helpful, and no doubt, priority number one. But, Neff says, "The second priority is finding ways to recover food for human use” and refocusing our attention on "the ethical purchasing approach."

Numerous U.S.-based breweries have begun to follow suit. This year, Washington D.C.’s Atlas Brew Works partnered with the Environmental Working Group and local grocer MOM’s Organic Market to mix its own version from stoned fruit. Elsewhere in New York, breweries and restaurants are developing partnerships with local bakeries who have made more rye croutons and rye chips in their day than they’d probably like to admit. One of these breweries discovered its new beer, Ruggernaut, by throwing frozen bread into a wood chipper.

As Wilson says, "You can have a lot of fun saving the world."

Takeaway: What better way to talk about why it’s important to reduce food waste than over a beer? Before you know it, Toast and other beers like it may be sold at a store, restaurant or bar near you.

It's already available for purchase at Whole Foods Markets in New York. If you live in the city, Food Kick will deliver it straight to your front door!

By the end of 2018, Toast plans to have expanded its concept and brand to at least 10 countries. South Africa, Iceland, and Brazil are already in the process of launching.

Read More: Food Tank’s Op-Ed, "How Breweries Are Using Food Waste to Make Beer"