The Truth About One Restaurant's Recycled Food Waste Meals

Americans are no stranger to food waste. It's a phenomenon that residents of many developed countries fall victim to at restaurants, in grocery stores, on farms, and even at home. How big of a problem is food waste, really? To put it into perspective, a startling 40% of food produced in the U.S. is never actually eaten. That equals approximately 133 billion pounds of wasted nutrition each year in the U.S. alone. Add in related issues like food access disparity and environmental impact, and it's easy to see why uneaten food has quickly become a global issue.

Fortunately, efforts to address food waste are underway. There are a ton of practical ways to reduce food waste in your home, and most tactics start in the kitchen. Reorganizing your refrigerator, eating leftovers, and taking certain expiration dates with a grain of salt are all ways a person can reduce their likelihood of wasting food. On a broader scale, you can also donate uneaten food to food banks, compost produce, or use surplus food to feed animals.

But can we also reduce food waste while eating out? As Eater reports, one unconventional restaurant in San Francisco thinks so. They're actively in conversation with the food waste issue, turning America's trash into their menu's treasure.

Shuggie's Trash Pie is redefining what we consider garbage

Shuggie's Trash Pie is a restaurant working to put food waste on the map in a new way. The recently-opened eatery was founded by Kayla Abe and David Murphy (as Eater notes, the duo also started Ugly Pickle Co. to help utilize "cosmetically-challenged produce"), and gained traction through a Kickstarter in 2021. Shuggie's defines itself as a "climate-friendly restaurant" and bases its dishes around often-trashed byproducts, less-than-perfect produce, and upcycled ingredients (a.k.a. leftovers) to create a seasonal and diverse array of offerings.

Depending on what the chefs at Shuggie's come upon at the farmer's market or the local butcher's, menu ingredients may include everything from Ugly Pickle Co. pickles to organ meats to vegetable trimmings and more. SFist highlights one of Shuggie's appetizers, "Buffalo Everything," which includes rarely-encountered chicken parts like gizzards, hearts, and livers. Similarly, the pizza dough used at the restaurant is made with oat milk by-products and leftover whey — the kind of ingredients other restaurants might typically trash.

So far, most people seem to be on board with Shuggie's low-waste concept, with one reviewer from The Bold Italic describing the restaurant's pepperoni, honey, chili, and ricotta fluff pizza as "next level." As evidenced by the menu's pizzas, Shuggie's doesn't shy away from using offbeat foods and flavor combinations so long as doing so equals tasty sustainability. And while its ingredients may seem unconventional, the restaurant's garlic knots, fried pickles, and chocolate bites should be familiar to even the timidest of diners.