A new Danish restaurant called “Rub og Stub” is offering patrons dishes cooked with ingredients supermarkets throw away, hoping to reduce food waste and raise money for charity. According to Sophie Sales, the co-founder of the restaurant “Too much food is thrown away in Denmark, and we wanted to do something about it.” So far, the restaurant has been able to offer “everything from lamb chops and duck breast, to big bags of grapes and dairy products,” Sales explains, courtesy of two supermarket chains belonging to Coop Danmark – the country’s biggest grocery retailer.
The idea for Rub og Stub came from Denmark’s “freegans”, which are better known as dumpster divers. In an attempt to reduce food waste, these people look through trash and consume the edible morsels they find. The ingenious team thought that it would be very good to use this unconventional idea for their restaurant.The tendency to look for the freshest, most beautiful produce has a real impact on the way supermarkets do business, forcing vendors to throw out food that might not look flawless but is still safe to eat. According to Businessweek, in 2012 Americans threw out the equivalent of about $180 billion” worth of food — 8 percent more than in 2008, the last time the USDA calculated the total value of food loss from households, supermarkets, restaurants, and other food-service providers. As Sales and her team are very interested in “food, sustainability and modern consumer society,” this matter is of utmost importance to them.
Photo: Rub og Stub/Facebook
Despite their good intentions, some people have been very critical of their concept accusing them of wanting to make a profit from the restaurant. The entrepreneurs responded that with the exception of a project coordinator and Irina Bothmann – the chef, the staff is made up of enthusiastic volunteers and that all the profits that they hope to make in the future will be donated to three charities in Sierra Leone. An article in France wrote that they were recycling garbage. “When they wrote about us in France, they sensationalized the headlines to say “Garbage on the plates”, which may sell papers, but isn’t true. We get our food before it is past its sell-by date and thrown out,” Sales insists.
Photo: Rub og Stub/Facebook
Another problem the people behind Rub og Stub were confronted with was the vendors’ reluctance to donate food that is going to be discarded. Even though the restaurant has been open for a while, they have yet to sign a contract with suppliers. “It has been great, but it has also been challenging,” Sales said. “We do not have any firm deals with distributors or supermarkets yet – mostly because I think they do not really understand the concept.” Some supermarket representatives have even asked them to pay for the produce. “We are trying to get them to donate food that they would throw out anyway, but there is always the suggestion that we should be paying them for it,” Bothman explained. However, Sales and her team are hopeful that they will get more donors on board. Sales believes “that Rub & Stub is the kind of innovative concept that we need to have more of in Denmark.”