Today’s assignment is about waste management in a bakery.
When researching about food waste and waste management, I came across several definitions of what is considered food waste. In fact, food waste definitions can vary so greatly that for purposes of this assignment I will consider a broader definition of food waste as food that has expired, does not meet desired food specifications for human consumption, process foods or foods that you would normally throw in the trash.
But the truth is that even without a proper definition, everybody has (or should have) an idea of what food waste is and that wasting food when there are so many hungry people in the world and more so that natural resources are finite, is a very bad idea, but how can we deal with the problem?
We may not be able to solve the world’s problem, but we can certainly start in our homes. And as business, how can one deal with waste?
In a business sense, we have to understand that not only that stale bread that get thrown away or that jug of milk that expired in the back of the fridge is waste, also the time of producing a product that gets over baked or is simply not sold is waste.
In my opinion the first step is avoiding unnecessary production. And in order to do that, good record keeping of sales and inventory, also proper food handling and making sure the refrigeration temperatures are correct at all times, are indispensable.
Adopting a “First In, First Out” (FIFO) approach to inventory handling can prevent ingredients to expiry, but not by itself, as without the proper training employees could ignore the system in favor of grabbing the most convenient box.
Keeping track of sales can help the bakery manager in many ways, but for purposes of waste management it reflects what products are most popular, and when they are sold, aiding in the production schedule. Which leads to best ordering practices avoiding the bakery not being able to use all of the product received before it goes bad.
But even when all of the good practices are observed, products may not be sold, cookies can get over baked, the what?
We can sell day-old products at a discounted price. Or donate items to shelters and food banks. Also getting creative in recycling leftovers, transforming what could become waste in new recipes.
That is not as bad as it sounds; raise your hand if you don’t have several recipes for left over Thanksgiving turkey?
Take a trifle for example, much tastier when made with leftover cake. Rum balls… hum rum balls, are just so good that one may even be happy in having left over cake.
I just learned in school that we can use over proofed or simply poorly made bread dough as a base for new bread dough. It sounded awful at first, but if you think that so many people give sourdough starters as a gift things start to make sense. And the bread made using leftovers was simply delicious.
Another product that had me roll my eyes was fruit bars. Imagine a “gone wrong” bucket filled with all sorts of cake and cookies scraps and leftovers transformed into a bar cookie. I never thought it could be tasty, and just tried because it’s part of the learning process, but it was surprisingly tasty. And if I was not aware of its origins, I would just think it was a spiced bar cookie.
Such a clever way of repurposing waste product, especially in a learning environment where things not always turn out as planned.