Getting Totally Wasted on Waste

What a wasteful, world could look like if we got drunk off our scraps.

By: Brian Ireland

What was the last meal you ate? Did you do your civic duty and lick your plate or bowl clean? Did you make sure not a single spec of sustenance went to waste? Probably not. I mean most people don’t. We try not to intentionally waste food, but when we’re full, we’re full. It happens. No need to feel bad about it. Or actually, should you? According to The World Hunger Organization, around 815 Million people in the world are undernourished because of poverty and lack of available food. On top of that, around 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted per year on scraps alone.

But let’s be honest with ourselves here, we don’t live in a utopia and everyone knows that the modern age Karl Marx’s aren’t getting any traction, so it’s unrealistic to think that we can just airdrop the 2 or 3 bites you didn’t want from your burger to the kids that are starving in less than ideal living conditions around the world.

So what if we considered another approach? An approach that not only helps reduce the wasted food around the world, but opens up job opportunities and stimulates the economy, allowing less people to be impoverished while shifting around where the wasted food goes, possibly allowing opportunity for some wasted food to feed the less fortunate.

Food waste can be used to produce alcohol. Day old bread is ideal for sugar extraction, a necessary part of the production of whiskey, gin or vodka. Breads and potentially other carbohydrates can be productively used and wasted less often.

Overripe fruits produce sugar. People don’t like to eat overripe fruits. However, the more ripe fruit gets, the more the starch is converted to sugar. This excess of sugar is perfect for a distillation process.

Extracting whey from wasted dairy can lead to yielding lower alcohol beers. (which can include other ingredients like fruit!).

There is so much potential for eliminating waste. If directly feeding the hungry isn’t an option, then give them a job sorting through waste and producing alcohol with the wastes that we so casually toss into the landfill or compost pile. Farmers are the key to the expansion and growth of the craft beverage supply, and they don’t even need to produce anything extra that they wouldn’t already be making. If portions of crops that weren’t up to standards with their fresh produce were extracted and sold to local distilleries, farmers could cut their losses and profit from this food that would have otherwise been wasted. It’s not a solution to world hunger, but that’s not what it was trying to be. It’s a way to improve the efficiency of food production and distribution in the world, allowing for less material to be wasted, and more opportunities to help your fellow neighbors, and the planet as a whole. It won’t stop the world from ripping itself apart, but hey, at least we’ll have plenty to drink when it does.