Trashy Trends: Zero-Waste, Ugly Produce, and Trashtagging


Trashy Trends: Zero-Waste, Ugly Produce, and Trashtagging


Each year, over 650 professional chefs and American Chef Federation (ACF) members are surveyed to predict up and coming food trends and to rule out old trends that are simply expired. In this year’s list of 140 items, a zero-waste cooking trend was voted as the third most growing trend. The zero-waste cooking trend means consciously making an effort to reduce the amount of waste through the creation and preparation of menu items. The importance of this act is to prevent landfills from overflowing. Zero-waste cooking covers a multitude of things from creatively using nose-to-tail ingredients and “ugly” produce to even recycling properly and reducing plastic and paper waste. This trashy trend can be widely applied in any restaurant, hotel, store, or food service company.

Misfits Markets

Chances are you have heard of at least one type of food service delivery or meal-kit provider within the last year. These companies’ popularity is rapidly growing, possibly due to their convenience and ease. There is one company in particular who caught on to the “delivered to your doorstep” trend and combined this marketing idea with their passion for waste reduction. “Misfits Market” will ship fresh, imperfect fruits and vegetable produce right to your door for up to 50% less than what could be paid in stores. The modern-day beauty standards are even applied to our consumer habits as we are drawn to purchasing the more aesthetic and appealing foods. These “ugly” produce items end up rotting in stores, thus playing a huge part in the $1 trillion of food wasted each year that could have been consumed.

The younger generations seem to flock to restaurants and food service companies who advertise as being eco-friendly. Not only is food waste reduction more cost effective, it also increases the reputation of your brand and helps the planet making this a win for everyone. Advertising your menu items as useful “ugly” produce can appeal to the general public. Another way to gather an eco-friendly reputation is by highlighting any of your nose-to-tail cooking.


The “Nose-to-tail” cooking is an idea coined by English Chef, Fergus Henderson, for a book he wrote. This book provides recipes along with his own philosophy behind using as much of the animal as possible, wasting as little as possible. Henderson believed “it seems common sense and even polite to the animal to use all of it.” Since another high trend to this year’s food predictions included the growing lifestyles of vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, and flexitarians (semi-vegetarian), the utilizing and highlighting of nose-to-tail recipes may help keep meat as a popular food menu item in many restaurants and food services.


While there’s no rhyme or reason for how viral internet trends are really born, we do know that the majority of them are comical. If you have ever wished for an inspiration and difference-making internet trend to catch fire, your wish has finally come true with #TrashTag. This hashtag is being used to share people’s public acts of cleaning up various streets, parks, beaches, etc. Before and after photos are posted of individuals or groups/organizations as they make a community environment healthier. This hashtag trend is mostly occurring on Instagram (over 39,000 posts) and Twitter.

Although this trend does not directly affect your restaurant, it will keep your local area clean and help draw traffic. It also improves the look and feel of your local community as a whole. A little act of kindness goes a long way.

For more on the top trending culinary trends, view We Are Chef’s recent blog: “ACF Chefs name plants, CBD, and zero-waste among top culinary trends for 2019.”