Trash and Treasure

written by Kat Bair
8 · 29 · 22

In Brooklyn, San Francisco, and Berkeley, you can get your name on the list for a sixteen-seat, pop-up, high-end dinner… served in a dumpster. 

The admittedly eye-roll-inducing hipster concept dinners, called the Salvage Supperclub, are not just a show of form; their message translates to function. The supper clubs, meant to help people reframe how they think about individual food waste, serve food made entirely from commonly discarded kitchen scraps. 

Ingredients like overripe tomatoes, wilted basil, sweet potato skins, and garbanzo bean water combine to make delicious but accessible dishes like mini veggie burgers, crispy potatoes, or tomato, eggplant, and squash ratatouille. There is even a doughnut made of overripe bananas, peel and all, on the menu. 

The idea is to inspire home cooks to consider how they can expand what they use in their kitchen and rethink the food often considered “trash.” This food waste isn’t out of laziness or disdain for the planet; it is simply because we don’t know how to utilize what we have. Anyone who has bought a head of broccoli and thrown everything but the crown away because they didn’t know what to do with the stems has experienced this problem firsthand. 

 What perfectly edible food do we pitch because it wasn’t the piece we were looking for? What treasures of flavor or nutrients wind up in the garbage because we don’t realize how valuable they could be? 

The salvage supper clubs can also give those of us in organizational leadership a window into our own “waste” as a community. What perfectly good resources do we discard because they aren’t the ones we were looking for? What valuable assets do we set aside because we think we already have enough of them? Most crucially, what potentially delicious thing are we missing out on because we don’t have the knowledge to know how to use it? 

We all have volunteers with more energy that we know how to leverage, a space bigger than we know how to use, institutional knowledge that we can’t figure out how to learn from, or a talented community just looking for something with purpose. We often get lost in first, identifying these treasures going out with the trash, and second, learning how to cook with them. 

In both of these instances, an outside voice can be crucial. In the first case, any outsider you talk to knows what it looks like to not have the resources you have too much of and, therefore, can highlight what talent, asset, and opportunity you’re letting pass you by. 

In the second, someone like a Ministry Incubators coach can help teach you the same skill as Chef Pesha Perslweig from the Salvage Supperclub: how to turn banana peels into doughnuts (metaphorically). 

Spend some time looking around this week and see if you can spot which treasures might be going out with the trash:

  • Do you have a volunteer or staffer who you avoid because they have too many ideas? 
  • Do you have classrooms that sit empty or boxes of supplies that you don’t know what to do with? 
  • Do you have an army of long-timers with a deep well of information about all the ways things used to be done but no ideas of how to productively use that information? 

Compare notes with friends in your field and see what you can spot in each other’s garbage cans and, if you’re ready to take on the challenge of learning to make something unique from your own leftovers, set up a call with our team today and we can help make something just wonderful!

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Kat Bair

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