Waste Less, Save More: Don’t Toss Those Trimmings!

Published on : 12/5/22
  • From onion tops to carrot stems, sweet potato peelings to fish heads, Sodexo’s Good Eating Company (GEC) chefs are cooking up trimmings that might otherwise get tossed. 

    It’s part of our DNA, says Chef Melody Miranda, Senior Culinary Director for the brand, which focuses on innovative, sustainable food services for corporate clients and campuses. We’re making simple changes that people can easily get used to.

    It’s a creative approach that elevates flavor and environmental impact — and uses more parts from vegetables, fruits, grains and proteins to cut food waste, carbon emissions and costs. It’s also aligned with our recent 10th anniversary celebration of WasteLESS week and global commitment to cut food waste 50% and carbon emissions 34% by 2025.  

    Chef Miranda says many GEC sites make homemade soup stock from vegetable trimmings; she does the same at home, freezing onion tops and veggie pieces in a Ziploc bag for broth.  

    Sites that don’t make their own stock can use Matriark, a woman-owned California-based company that creates broth, soups, stews and sauces from “upcycled” foods — products with an auditable supply chain documenting positive environmental impact. 

    Every carton of Matriark’s Upcycled Vegetable Broth lists the amount of landfill waste, greenhouse gas and water saved in its production. Saint Mary’s College of California kitchen staff uses the broth and Miranda hopes to introduce it to more sites soon. 

    Other GEC chefs are innovating with protein to ensure more of the animal is used. Butchering in-house has become more popular, saving dollars per pound and giving chefs more to work with. 

    At Broadcom’s Innovation Café in San Jose, Executive Chef Vincent Lai uses fish trimmings in his wildly popular fish head soup. He also makes his own tofu. They’re going nuts for it, Miranda says. He’s the mad-scientist chef.

    At LinkedIn in San Francisco, Chef Alicia Jenish-Mc Carron orders whole animals from local regenerative farms, teaching staff to butcher cow, lamb, goat, chicken and pig on-site. She draws on cultural recipes, such as mixed grills and stews, which make fuller use of the animals. In-house butchering also cuts down on packaging waste, she says. 

    The LinkedIn crew also turns carrot tops into pesto, reimagines turnip and beet greens, and makes homemade oat and almond milk. The residual pulp — about 100 pounds per week — is shipped to local chicken farmers.  

    Chef Miranda says the freedom to be creative — and the guidelines of sustainability and deliciousness — allow the chefs to thrive. It’s a win-win-win, with clients getting healthier meals and everyone generating smaller carbon footprints.  

    All of our chefs are passionate about different things, she says. We let them do what they want as long as it’s within the pillars of our ethos.