As a species, we waste an amazing amount of food. According to Natural Resources Defense Council, people chuck an incredible 40% of all food we produce. Dumpster divers have long sought to live off of the excess of our inefficient system, scrounging for edibles amongst the trash bin. Going one step further, some enterprising cooks and activists from Austria have created a reality TV show dedicated to cooking exclusively from the trash called “Waste Cooking“.
Waste Cooking director David Gross (and yes, that is his real last name) executed his first dive back in January of 2012. He was “left speechless” by the amount of refuse he encountered and felt that the public needed to be aware of the the 105,000 tons of food that Austria throws out each year. Gross teamed up with a group of fellow divers and cooks to produce a reality TV show to highlight the possibilities lying at the in rubbish bins across the country.
Since 1995, Austria has had a law requiring the separation of food waste from landfill materials, making it one of the most efficient and widespread composting programs in the world. In the show, the Waste Cooking team first heads out at night by bicycle to find the bins of organic waste and gather a variety of produce, meats, and cheeses. After making their haul, the freegan fare is then turned into a series of compelling dishes by food blogger and chef Tobias Judmaier. The meals are afterwards set up in a public place where the group tries to entice passersby to try their creations. Some are intrigued, others turn up their noses, but all get a taste of what it like to see how many good groceries wind up being tossed.
The first episodes of Waste Cooking went online in March of last year, and began aired on the Viennese station Okto in December. You can check out their official website for pictures, clips, and recipes as well as a short film, Days in Trash.