World leaders accustomed to fine dining had a surprise on their plates Sunday at the United Nations - trash.
Chefs cooked up a lunch made entirely of food that would have ended up in garbage bins, hoping to highlight the extraordinary waste in modern diets and its role in worsening climate change. It included such delicacies as the "landfill salad", consisting of vegetable scraps and rejected fruit.
Also on the menu for the lunch at the UN headquarters was a vegetable burger made of pulp left over from juicing, which typically wastes most of the produce.
The burger came with fries created from starchy corn that would typically go to animal feed - which along with biofuels is the end product of the overwhelming majority of the 36 million hectares of corn grown in the United States.
“It's the prototypical American meal but turned on its head. Instead of the beef, we're going to eat the corn that feeds the beef,” said Dan Barber, a prominent New York chef who co-owns the Blue Hill restaurant.
“The challenge is to create something truly delicious out of what we would otherwise throw away,” he said.
Barber crafted the menu with Sam Kass, the former White House chef who drove the anti-obesity “Let's Move” campaign of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Kass thought of the waste-lunch concept as he learned about year-end UN climate negotiations in Paris, which aim to reach a far-reaching global agreement to tackle the planet's worsening climate change.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking to reporters afterward, said the lunch demonstrated how food waste was "an often overlooked aspect of climate change."
"That is shameful when so many people suffer from hunger," Ban said.
According to UN figures, 28 percent of agricultural lands around the world go to produce food that is lost or wasted. The loss each year is the equivalent of 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon responsible for climate change.