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Circular meal project will see local restaurants serve gourmet meals created through waste food

The launch of Re(PURPOSE) celebrates the collaborative efforts of local businesses who’ve come together to create a circular food experience
Thursday's Zoom call launching re(PURPOSE) project.

A meal created from waste might not sound appetizing, but smoked trout with sourdough bread, chips and beer does.

Local restaurants will be serving North America’s first circular meal – a meal created entirely from waste, as part of the Re(PURPOSE) project, which had its virtual launch online Thursday.

“In every stage in the journey from field to fork, there are byproducts: Peels from potatoes, grains from brewing, pulp from juicing,” said Jon Duschinsky, executive vice-president of the Provision Coalition. “While some may see these peels and grains and pulp as waste or compost, we prefer to see opportunity, nutrients, ingredients and even new products.”

The project is funded by the Provision Coalition and aims to revolutionize the way people see our food ecosystem by eliminating food waste and lowering the negative impact that food production and waste has on the environment.

“Right now, nine per cent of the global (food) economy is circular. That means 91 per cent of everything we produce is wasted after a single use,” said Cher Mereweather, executive director of the Provision Coalition. “Our world is built on take, make, dispose. We cannot continue to accommodate the mentality of we use it once and then we’re done with it.”

The virtual launch of the Re(PURPOSE): A circular food experience, educated the public about circular food and the project’s overarching message of creating food sustainability. The Zoom event featured messages from Mike Shreiner, leader of the Green Party and Guelph MPP, Lloyd Longfield, Guelph MP and Ward 6 councillor Dominique O’Rourke.

Shreiner said in a video message that he wasn’t surprised that “it was Guelph and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group” that created Canada’s first circular meal.

“It fit’s so much into the Our (Food) Future vision of how we create a circular food economy here by eliminating waste, supporting local farmers, creating jobs and ensuring that people have access to healthy, local food,” said Shreiner.

The meals which are featured at The Wooly Pub, Mijiida and Park Grocery Deli & Bar use resources from varying local businesses to create dishes with similar ingredients, but with individual twists, like a take on fish and chips, a smoked trout sandwich, and a cured steelhead trout. 

“It really is fitting that these fabulous ingredients - high in nutritional value ingredients, come together in the hands of the chefs at the neighborhood group,” said Duschinsky.

Grains used in beer are fed to insects which are fed to trout. The by-product from the trout is then used to fertilize the potatoes. Leftover grain from the beer is used to create the sourdough bread bringing the process of creating circular ingredients full circle. 

In addition to providing a delicious meal, creating a circular food economy is also about creating continuous benefits for the environment.

“It’s really more than just a meal. It’s about us doing and seeing food differently,” said Scott Stewart, City of Guelph Chief Administrative Officer. “It’s about keeping as much material and nutrients in the food system for as long as possible, and therefore keeping it out of our landfills.” 

Mereweather said that the circular food economy is taking inspiration from nature. She said it’s about regenerating the system that generates the food that nourishes us and making sure that we share economic prosperities and eliminating waste while nourishing our community. 

“This is really a time for us to see food differently,” Mereweather said. “It’s our opportunity to show the world that not only is this possible, but this is an economic advantage and that this is an amazing opportunity to show the world that circular meal experiences and circular opportunities exist.”