Äss Bar: Where buying day old bread is civilized

When was the last time you bought a loaf of bread and ate the entire thing the day it was baked?

Photos from Äss Bar
Photos from Äss Bar

We were recently in Zurich for a business trip when I walked past a sign for Äss Bar. Intrigued by the name and double entendre (ässbar means edible in Swiss German), I walked in to see what was on offer. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed. In response to ridiculously high food waste across Switzerland, Äss Bar collects day old baked goods and sells them at a fraction of their original prices in five locations across the country. What I absolutely love is that they know day old food isn’t just for for the homeless and hungry, but that city dwellers with well to do incomes support the cause too.

As I perused all the goodies I’d consume, everyone from businessmen to hipsters walked in to buy their goods “fresh from yesterday.” While some can say this is only because Zurich is arguably one of the most expensive cities in the world, I’d argue to say people are getting smarter about their purchasing decisions. With quality goods and quality control, there’s absolutely no reason this isn’t viable in countries elsewhere.

I used to work at a bakery years ago and at the end of every night I was instructed to toss leftovers onto the curb. Instead, I’d pack them nicely into bakery boxes and carry them from the Madison Avenue storefront into the subway station where I’d hand out beautifully decorated and perfectly edible cupcakes to the homeless or hungry – cupcakes meant for the dumpster though they’d be just as suitable to sell the next morning. Despite having the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, it saddens me that many business owners still find more pain than pleasure when it comes to addressing hunger issues and their contributions to food waste.

When will food waste prevention become part of everyday business? How long before regulation penalizes us for food waste like it does in South Korea? And what other great examples have you seen out there? Share your thoughts!

Things we love: Preventing food waste

– Korea – “Pay as you Trash” – charges residents to dispose food waste based on weight
– France – Inglorious fruits and vegetables are sold at a discounted price at Intermarché supermarkets as covered by the NYTimes in 2015
– Germany – Culinary Misfits are caterers in Berlin who purchas imperfect vegetables from farmers, stores and restaurants for use in their amazing catering business
– Worldwide – Pay by weight restaurants

Things we love (as a second-best option): Diverting food waste from landfills

– U.S. – the Food Cowboy app “connects for-profit food distributors who have truckloads of rejected fresh food – which typically ends up in the trash – with charities and food banks that desperately need that grub.”
– Hong Kong – Food Link Foundation diverts food waste from hotels and restaurants to those in hunger