Food waste is one of the most significant waste streams for meeting spaces / conference venues / hotels and party spaces. One way to reduce this rather counter intuitively is to increase choice on a buffet table, encouraging attendees to return multiple times to the buffet stations, rather than overloading their plate just one time. A recent article in the Guardian of Manchester calls this sort of eating French Service, by which they mean a table groaning with everything at once, our modern-day buffet station. In the early 19th century this was replaced by the Russian Service, basically endless small servings, what we might nowadays call bowl food. The benefits of the ‘Russian’ service was that it required lots of servants / the food came out hotter etc. The very labour-intensive nature of the endeavour its cost, presumably implied prestige / wealth.
In terms of psychology the ‘French Service’ plays to basic human psychology, if you experience plenty on a table you don’t panic that not enough will be forthcoming, you don’t hoard / overeat. You take what you need without taking that little bit extra, that little bit extra being driven by the fear that the food won’t be there when you return. Whereas the Russian leaves attendees anxious, will there be another small plate coming or is that the end of the meal? In a nutshell presenting a delegate with a buffet table groaning with choice leads to less food waste as delegates will put less on their plate, as they are not so anxious about runnig out of food, all in all less food waste!
If you are looking for a venue which takes sustainability seriously there are a number of other important factors. No matter how much you try there will always be some food waste. What happens to this waste is important, where possible it should be donated to those that need it. Often this isn’t possible, hot food can only be kept warm for so long etc. Alternatively waste food should be composted, it is a tremendously valuable resource, simply throwing it into landfill means it is not being used, it is wasted and not recycled.
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