Waste less, want more: Epicure Cincinnati aims to reduce unused food

Jeffrey Miller is providing Cincinnati with the opportunity to eat, share, and learn, as community members take an inward look at their habits pertaining to food waste.

According to Miller’s research, 43 percent of food waste — that’s 27 million tons — comes from people’s homes.

That's why he's created Epicure Cincinnati. Made possible by a grant from People's Liberty, the project's mission is to reduce food waste by engaging "... the community in an unconventional exploration into the beliefs, behaviors, and biases we have regarding the consumption of imperfect produce — an exploration which leads to a significant reduction in the amount of food being thrown away."

Miller is approaching the goal via a three-fold approach: by engaging chefs to create meals for the public with “ugly” produce, by inviting both chefs and non-chefs alike to share photos and shed some light on their decision-making processes when it comes to using or not using imperfect food in the kitchen, and by inviting them to also interact by playing games such as “Eat Me” (branded as “a ‘Tinder” for discovering food preferences), and “Yummy!” which allows people to create terminology and then vote for new terms to describe “ugly” foods. (“Rescued” and “imperfect” are frontrunners, though Miller says he’s secretly pulling for “wonky.”)

Those interested in learning about food waste by eating chef-prepared meals can do so in a couple of ways. Firstly, they can sign up for Lunchbox, which is completely free of charge. They’ll also have an opportunity to do so at ResQ August 16th, from 5–8 p.m. at Findlay Market Biergarten.

In partnership with Eli’s BBQ and Cincinnati COOKS! Catering, the event will give participants an inside look (and taste) at how aging produce can be used to create delicious meals, while also lending a voice to experts in the field and dumpster divers alike. 

“We can read statistics, but it’s not really from statistics that we get change,” Miller says. “I want to further position chefs as change makers.”

And that’s really how the idea for Epicure Cincinnati came about.

Miller, who was working as a volunteer chef at La Soupe at the time, says he would look at the boxes of rescued food stacked all over the place, yet see people “joyfully walk up to the counter, order food, and pay for it.”

The idea sparked, and the motivation to act came through.

“There it is,” Miller says. “This is the real effect a chef can have.”

For details regarding Epicure Cincinnati, including how you can get involved, check out the website.

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Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a college educator, freelance writer, and the event producer for Ohio Civics Essential. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.