An industrial designer is throwing high-end dinner parties in dumpsters with wasted food

Don’t judge.
Don’t judge.
Image: Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler
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The idea is to get wasted—literally.

By staging a fine dining experience in a dumpster with old food, Josh Treuhaft is looking to make a point: Even those with discriminating palettes can be convinced that a perfectly edible meal is possible using food that would otherwise be thrown out with the garbage.

More than 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US each year. According to ReFED, a food waste advocacy group, a 20% reduction in waste would reclaim the 1,250 calories per capita that typically goes into landfills each year. That’s enough to feed America’s food-insecure population three times over.

To put that message into action, Treuhaft, an industrial designer who initially toyed with dumpster-dining idea in Brooklyn, teamed up with chef Pesha Perslweig to create the Salvage Supperclub, which has been hosting dinners in San Francisco.

Under Perslweig’s culinary vision, old herbs and bruised tomatoes are just a few of the items being used to create dining experiences intended to change peoples’ perception of food. An NPR reporter who recently attended one of the Salvage Supperclub dinners said the idea seemed to be resonating with do-gooder types with an interest in eating responsibly, rather than hard-core foodies.

…the assembled group of 16 seem less the sort in search of the next new foodie thing and more eager to eat well and save the world, or at least be more mindful about waste. There’s a retired high school math teacher and his family, a hairdresser friend of the chef and several guests with food-related jobs.

Grassroots efforts like Salvage Supperclub are dovetailing with larger efforts to warm consumers to the idea of eating less-than-perfect produce. Walmart recently announced plans for a brand geared around selling ugly produce at a discount and a push to clarify and streamline its food expiry labeling.