In Montreal, enjoy preserves made from recycled food waste!

Posted on 09 May 2018.

To turn fruit and vegetables destined for the trash can into delicious gourmet preserves - the circular idea devised by Montreal chef Guillaume Cantin.

The system should enable stores to reduce the volume of their waste by approximately one third.

In Canada, 40% of food ends up in the trash can… A scandal given that the majority of discarded produce is still perfectly fit for consumption. An incredible waste, which chef Guillaume Cantin and his sidekick Thibault Renouf wanted to tackle. They reached out to storekeepers in their city of Montreal to better understand their waste management issues and together come up with an effective solution. This is how in 2017, La Transformerie - an NGO based on circular economy principles - came into being.

The goal is to minimize waste as far as possible and reduce the amount of food that goes in the trash can. So La Transformerie has introduced a regular collection of unsold produce from local volunteer stores in Montreal. Once recovered, the food is cooked and recycled to make ready-to-eat fruit and vegetable preserves. The NGO produces a wide assortment of salty spreads and sweet marmalades devised by chef Guillaume Cantin himself - for example, delicious squash chutney, broccoli hummus and banana caramel.

Storekeepers found it difficult to imagine how tasty delights could be made from food considered unfit for consumption... But it didn’t take them long to realize that this circular economy approach was virtuous in every way: indeed, once cooked, the preserves are returned free of charge to storekeepers who can then offer these new products to their customers. The Transformerie allows them to avoid the usual costs of waste collection and restores market value to their unsold produce.

Currently a dozen or so stores in the neighborhood of Rosemont are participating. According to chef Guillaume Cantin, this system should enable them to reduce the volume of their waste by about a third. It is also a solidarity based circuit, since all the food not used by La Transformerie is redistributed to organizations that are fighting poverty. And finally, thanks to a deposit system, customers can return empty jars so they be reused by La Transformerie. It’s a great way to engage consumers in a circular, collaborative movement!