Maximus Waste: A Food Waste Mockumentary
Transcript by Jack Dorst, Joe Erwin, Sarah Lemke, Lia Miller, and Isabella Ruta
Transcript edited by Meredith Coffey
Act 1: IZZY’S APARTMENT
INT: At The Dinner Table
[Italian music plays in the background.]
[A knock at the door is audible. Music continues playing but stops abruptly.]
SARAH: Hi Izzy! So we’re all here. We brought some food.
JOE: We brought Ramen.
JACK: And [unintelligible]
[Italian music begins again in the background, gradually growing louder.]
IZZY: I just want to thank you all for coming to dinner. It’s so great that we all get to take time out of our busy schedules and sit down and eat a meal together. I, food is just-‐
JACK: I’m starving. Can we eat now?
IZZY: Yeah, I was just trying to say that food is precious. Food is life! And food is--
JACK: Getting cold. C’mon, let’s eat!
SARAH: Wait! Don’t touch anything. Did you wash your hands? Any of you?
JOE: Who cares?
SARAH: I care! Did you know that 30,000 people die every year from food-borne illnesses? So I think we all need to use a little bit of hand sanitizer to keep things sanitary. We don’t want anybody getting sick. I’ve got a midterm next week and I can’t miss it. So I am not going to let your dirty hands influence my grades. Okay?
Oh and another thing. You know Izzy, I really like your silverware but I really think that we should use this prepackaged silverware that I brought, the plastic forks and knives, because it’s totally sanitary.
Not that I don’t trust your dishwashing skills but I would feel a bit more comfortable if we use these.
IZZY: Are you kidding me Sarah? I spent three...Nope... whatever makes you happy.
SARAH: Thank you, thank you. All right. Now we can eat.
JOE: Who brought these ramen noodles?
JACK: I did.
JOE: They’re not even cooked, Jack.
JACK: It’s cuz I wasn’t able to cook. I live in the U.C.
JOE: Well, did you at least recycle the plastic wrapping?
JACK: It might be on my floor somewhere.
IZZY: Wow Joe, this salad is really good!
JOE: Thanks, Izzy. It’s organic. Also, the bowl is Bio-degradable.
SARAH: Did you say, organic?
SARAH: I’m sorry, I can’t eat this.
JOE: Why? "Organic" means it’s good for you.
SARAH: No, it means it’s dirty.
IZZY: Well, Sarah, what did you bring?
SARAH: Store bought food, all approved by the FDA. I don’t cook in my own kitchen because you never know what germs are in there.
JACK: Well if anything Joe, the salad looks really bland.
JOE: Hey, you think my salad looks good right?
See, he thinks it looks good.
IZZY: Wait, guys, where’s Lia?
[knocking sound at the door]
LIA: Hey! Sorry I'm late, guys. I was shopping.
JACK: Why do you have a trash bag?
LIA: Oh, you know, ’cause it’s, you know, easier to carry.
JACK: Uh huh.
[background music stops]
SARAH: Thank you, Lia! Finally some store bought food.
LIA: Yea, it’s from the store.
JACK: All this stuff looks so good.
IZZY: Jack, you barely took one bite.
JACK: So? I can just eat at the U.C later.
JOE: That was really wasteful, Jack. That knife is going to end up some whale’s blowhole. That food is going to attract disease-ridden flies. And that plastic plate is just going to end up in another landfill. Come on, Jack.
[Italian music starts playing again in the background.
IZZY: I love how positive Joe is.
LIA: Um, can I be excused to go to the bathroom?
IZZY: Yeah. Um, it’s right back there on the right.
IZZY: Ah. Lia. What are you doing?
IZZY: You did buy that food, right?
LIA: Yeah, um, I got it while diving with my freegan friends.
IZZY: And by diving do you mean fishing or something?
LIA: Um, no. Dumpster diving.
[Background music increases significantly in volume.]
SARAH: What?! Ugh. Eughhh.
LIA: Okay, it’s all edible, and nothing is expired.
SARAH: This is the worst dinner party ever!
LIA: Well you know what?
[LIA and SARAH shout at each other; words are unintelligible due to crescendo of music. Soon all characters are shouting at each other unintelligibly.]
IZZY: Stop! Stop! If you think the way you see food is right then go out and prove it!
5.23 Intermission: Stirring the Pot with Izzy
[Smooth jazz plays in the background.]
IZZY: Hi. Welcome to stirring the pot with Izzy. Here are some food waste statistics. Did you know:
• One third of all food locally is wasted.
• 1.3 billion tons of food is not local.
• 40% of the food grown or raised in the US is not eaten. There has been a 50% rise in food waste in America.
• 25% of the freshwater and 300 million barrels of oil is used on food that is wasted
• $250 billion is lost globally every year due to food waste.
• Food waste is the single largest component in American landfills and is a huge producer of methane gas.
• $250 billion is lost globally every year due to food waste.
Thank you for watching “Stirring the Pot with Izzy”
6:18 Act II: Izzy's Follow-Up
IZZY: Hey guys, I hope you all brought some great information and now maybe we can eat in peace!
IZZY: Wait! Tell me what you found first.
JACK: Ok, Ok! Um, first off, I was interviewing a couple of my friends.
6.29 Claire Wendlandt, Columbia College Chicago Student
In college? Not as much. I’m not as well informed as I probably should be, but, um, I wish I knew more about the UC because that’s where I go, that’s where I eat stuff, but, no, I don’t know that much.
6.43 Alex Poling, Columbia College Chicago Student
6.44 Jason Bui, Columbia College Chicago Student
Yes. It happens a lot. I’ve seen it a lot. I’ve done it myself, sometimes.
6.54 Ryan Colegrove, Columbia College Chicago Student
Uh, at the cafeteria, like, we have like a, like a...conveyer belt and it seems like so much food is just wasted. I mean, like, I’m guilty of it sometimes even if I actually want to eat all the stuff I get, but, I mean, like, it’s just sad, but like, it happens, I guess.
7.16 Dominique Huiras, Columbia College Chicago Student
Want more, get more
7.18 Pilar Canchola, Columbia College Chicago Student
I don’t think I’ve ever once come down here to get a meal without seeing a plateful of food left at the turning rack.
7.26 Claire Wendlandt, Columbia College Chicago Student
I try not to. I don’t really buy that much food and I try to be mindful, especially when I get food here. Um, but I don’t think I throw away that much.
7.34 Jason Bui, Columbia College Chicago Student
No. Um...usually I get, like, a small bowl or portion of the food that I want to try so that I don’t waste it, because like... A lot of the food here, it looks good, but when you try it, it doesn’t taste that good.
7.46 Alex Poling, Columbia College Chicago Student
(Jack off camera, “Ok. Can you elaborate?”)
Yes. I can. (laughs)
7.50 Claire Wendlandt, Columbia College Chicago Student
No. People are stupid. It’s like, why waste all this food? Like, there are people that are starving out there who deserve this food that you’re wasting and like, you don’t use it, you throw it away, you know?
8.05 Ryan Colegrove, Columbia College Chicago Student
Yeah. I feel like that, and like you’re saying and I don’t know what these guys think but, I feel like, yeah, there’s a lot of food waste. I feel that they should encourage more of recycling and composting and doing stuff like that.
8.17 INT: Back at Izzy’s Apartment
JACK: Let’s just say, I'm not the only wasteful person on this campus. I think that’s because I don’t know where this food goes. And I’m a college student, so there’s not that much I can do about it.
IZZY: That’s not true, Jack. You can make a difference.
SARAH: Yeah! Just the other day Izzy and I spoke to a woman online from The Food Recovery Network and they work with college students to take food from the university centers to give to people in need.
8.37 Autumn Rauchwerk, Food Recovery Network
The easiest way to describe what the Food Recovery Network is, is it’s a network of colleges and universities throughout the country that recovers surplus food from dining halls, on‐campus catered events, um, on-campus restaurants, and donate the food to organizations that are feeding people experiencing hunger. Um and this is food that would have been thrown away at the end of the night, but we’re able to recover it and it is still edible, still really good, fresh food. It starts around dining hall closing time, at around 8 or 9 pm. And students come into the dining hall. They are wearing hats, and gloves, long pants, closed‐toe, non‐slip shoes, um, and basically the chefs and the dining services workers cart out the food that was prepared but wasn’t sold or served that day. And then the students are the ones who, you know they had washed their hands with warm soapy water before putting on their gloves, and they are the ones taking the food. They are taking the temperature of the food. They are packaging the food into trays, weighing the trays and reporting what types of food and how much the food weighs to us. And then they’re actually putting the trays in vans and driving it down to a local partner agency, which is often a homeless shelter. It could be a local church, a boys and girls club. It’s all student volunteers, so basically, as a national organization we’re their consultants or their mentors through the process of starting this chapter. And, if students who want to start a, you know, a campus organization and they want to make a difference, you know, fighting hunger and food waste at the same time. I mean, 40% of our food is wasted while 1 in 6 Americans are considered food insecure. So it’s, you can use one problem to solve another. And students are like, well, this is something we want to do and it’s using that student power. And we provide grants, um money for them as well, for things like gas reimbursements, for their trays, for scales, um, things like that, and we also send them cool swag like these hats that they’re wearing cuz you know, you’re supposed to wear hats or hair nets on a food recovery. And so they… [unintelligible] awesome Food Recovery Network hats.
10.51 INT: Back at IZZY’s apartment
JOE: But Sarah, you’re just as wasteful as Jack, though.
SARAH: I know. I realize that. And I used to think that doing things like donating and dumpster diving was just unsanitary. But I talked to a couple of people who showed me that food insecurity is a huge thing and that you need to donate. And that packaging and labels isn’t that important.
11.08 Food Depository Interviews
[Upbeat music plays in the background.]
SARAH: So we are heading towards the Greater Chicago Food Depository to talk with Jim Conwell. He is the Director of Communications.
JIM CONWELL: The Greater Chicago Food Depository is the city of Chicago’s food bank. We serve Cook County, Illinois. So, we provide food to hungry people through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and programs. We know that, uh, about 860,000 people in Cook County are food insecure, meaning they’re at risk of hunger, they have difficulty accessing food at all times and, um, they sometimes don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We serve about 678,000, um, unduplicated individuals a year.
11.53 (Food Safety)
Food safety is a big priority for us. Wear gloves, hair nets, masks if you are working with un-, um, unpackaged foods like fresh produce or bulk items. Uh, we, uh carefully inspect all donated food that comes in before it goes back out. And that includes food drive donations. Every single can, every single box, every single packages is inspected for code dates and for, um, quality control, so if the package wasn’t damaged or contaminated in any way.
Alright, Food Rescue, which is our fastest source of donated food. Last year we did about 10.5 million pounds of food rescue. That’s where we go and pick up food from retailers. Primarily grocery stores and then distribute that directly to agencies.
12.43 (Protections for Food Donors)
The Good Samaritan Law, um, came along in the early 80’s I believe. It was a, it was a really good thing for hunger relief in our country because, um, it made people understand that they could help without, uh, fearing, uh, litigation or anything like that. It really, uh, eased people’s concerns about the risk of doing something good to help hungry people. There’s no lack of food in this country; there’s lack of access to food. And what we do at the food bank is we provide food to anyone in our community in need. And for us, uh, more good quality, nutritious food that can be given to people in need and not go to waste is a good thing.
[Upbeat music plays in the background and then fades out.]
13.38 Interview with Stuart Iseminger, Director of Programs and Operations at the Lakeview Pantry of Chicago
[Different, more ephemeral music plays briefly.]
[Energetic, drum-driven music plays and then fades out.]
STUART ISEMINGER: Here, we serve about 2,000 individuals and our other location about 1,000 individuals. We were very intentional about this space. Um, we wanted a storefront. We wanted it to be very visible for people needing help.
We collect and distribute 1.6 million pounds of food every year.
Let’s see. We are committed to a decent sized allotment for our clients. Um, we are very healthy. We’re very strong, both from an in kind donor base and a financial donor base. So we are very stable, um, compared to a lot of food pantries.
The items that we end up tossing are bread and fruits and vegetables. They’re the two most highly perishable items that we have.
Yeah, it’s private individual donations and corporate and foundation. We do get USDA, United States Department of Agriculture, commodities.
We’re not open to the public today, but if we were open, this hallway would be full of carts and food.
[Woman speaking, words unintelligible, with upbeat music growing louder.]
INT: Back at IZZY’s apartment
SARAH: Hey listen, I realized that I was a part of the problem. I was throwing away perfectly edible food.
LIA: I told you!
IZZY: Shhh! Just wait your turn.
SARAH: I realized that food is precious. I’d never thought of it that way before.
IZZY: I told you that food was precious and-
LIA: Izzy! Wait your turn.
SARAH: So I’ve been thinking about changing my ways and starting to volunteer at a local food pantry!
JACK: I...I want to volunteer too.
LIA: I think we should all volunteer.
[Background music gradually increases in volume.]
JOE: Yea, but it’s not just about the food that goes into people’s mouths. There's a lot of food that goes into landfills and creates environmental hazards. I talked to Beth about it, and she told me some useful information about the effects of food waste on the environment.
BETH DAVIS BERG: Food waste, like a lot of waste matters that are organic in nature, are going to heat other things and therefore will get hot as they’re decomposing, which if you’re making a compost bin is a useful thing, um, but that’s probably not great for a landfill with other things that are flammable inside it.
One of the concerns is the amount of heat in other consumables coming out of landfills. Plastics do bad things when they get hot.
There’s definitely waste in the agricultural industry, which isn’t surprising. Very few industries are charged at all for their environmental impact.
If you were told that you had to, you know if you make a hundred dollars that you need to spend twenty of it getting rid of your waste, you’re going to reduce your waste. If you’re told that your waste doesn’t cost anything, or costs a dollar, there’s no reason.
Or to tax people, tax companies, for the amount of waste or their carbon footprint. There’s been a lot of, a lot questions whether or not either taxing for a carbon footprint or on a similar side, sort of charging, figuring out a way to charge for the amount of renewable and non-renewable resources these companies are using.
One thing that would help in the US is for more communities to add, there are still communities where there’s no recycling. There are communities where there’s no composting. I try to be responsible, as we know…show…I mean I, I collect…my husband makes fun of me because I collect all sorts of cans. I’ve actually cleaned them out twice this semester.
There are sell by dates and use by dates. And the sell by date is different than the use by date. But a lot of people will use the sell by date as a use by date. Um, and I think that’s a difference. But then, there’s also people that are gonna be more susceptible to changes in a bacteria content on food.
How many times do you let something go bad in your fridge because you don’t get to it? How many times do you buy something that, at least in my fridge, likes to freeze things? So I’ve had whole sets of vegetables frozen and therefore entirely unusable because they don’t taste right anymore.
JOE: Yea, but I guess not all food "waste” is bad. Some of it can be used for things like composting.
JACK: What’s that? I mean, I’ve heard of it before but I really don't know what it is.
[Upbeat guitar music playing in the background.]
JOE: It’s basically when you take biodegradable materials like food and make it into things like nutrients for gardens and soil.
JACK: Oh, isn’t that what that guy from the café had? Didn’t he like, take all of his leftover food and put it in a compost bin or something like that?
NYLE FISHER: We don’t waste. We compost everything. So yeah, I mean, generally we don’t, I mean, we compost coffee grinds, you know what I mean? Um, but if we have any leftover food, we do compost it.
JOE: Actually, I think we saw one while we were dumpster diving with Lia.
IZZY: Oh yea, it was the one with the fruit in it.
SARAH: Ugh, I still can’t believe we did that. It was so dirty.
JACK: It wasn't that bad.
JOE: Yea, I’m just kind of disappointed that we didn’t find anything.
IZZY: We found the compost.
LIA: Yea. On one hand, I’m happy some stores are composting because it’s good for our earth, but then on the other hand, a lot of stores are using compactors so people like me can't get in them. It makes me so mad!
IZZY: At least you’re actively trying to make a change.
JOE: Lia, did you talk to anyone?
LIA: Well, no, but firsthand experience is the best experience.
Well, I brought my friend Izzy out here to dumpster dive because you shouldn’t dumpster dive alone. It’s quite dangerous. Um, if you look under here, you can see otherwise perfectly good fruit. I don’t even think this food is bad. If you wipe it off, there’s no type of bruises. It’s not rotting. I think they just throw this away at the end of the day. Um, it’s really despicable.
IZZY: Yeah, so, no dumpster diving here. It’s a compactor. They smash all their food, so we can’t get to it.
LIA: Yeah! Fruit! It smells so good in here.
IZZY: And they chop it all up, so you can’t get it.
LIA: At least they compost. So this is [name of the restaurant], and they do compost, which is a good thing. Um, I feel like they could compost more than they do, but it seems like they’re at a pretty good pace.
JOE: This is without a doubt the nicest smelling trash I’ve ever seen. Or smelled, technically.
JACK: First you squeeze lemons. Well, you know, they’re not fresh anymore, but they were fresh once.
LIA: Do not climb in, on, or around or occupy this container for any purpose.
IZZY: Like on the dive they did it like, one in the morning, midnight.
MALE VOICE: Yeah.
IZZY: And we’re out here at 11.
LIA: Oh, there’s cartons of coffee grounds, and milk. Yeah. This is recycling, though.
IZZY: So, they’re doing it right.
LIA: But unfortunately, there’s nothing here that we can take back with us and eat, so we’re just gonna go hungry. Or to the next dumpster!
LIA: I don’t see any food.
SARAH: Do not enter. Well, you definitely don’t want to enter a compactor. We want the real trash that’s edible. This other stuff is worthless.
IZZY: Wait, but seriously. This is, this is an old dumpster, and they just put this shit on top so that nobody can get through.
SARAH: So it seems that Trader Joe’s has moved beyond the padlock system and has put this entire contraption on top so we can’t get inside, unfortunately, which is where the good stuff is.
LIA: They don’t want us taking their trash, because…I mean, I don’t understand why. It’s trash.
[Cheery music plays in background.]
IZZY: I think it’s awesome that you guys went out and did this. I'm really proud of you guys. You know that history shows that our portion sizes have completely changed. I remember my grandma telling me when she had to go and crop the plants on the farm and plant her food and skin the animals and hunt…
My grandma always said about potatoes… Food waste is such an important topic. Guys!
JOE: I’m sorry, I didn’t know we were still in class, Professor Izzy.
IZZY: Whatever, just, let’s eat. Pass me a roll.
JACK: You can’t have all four!
LIA: Why not?
IZZY: Where’s the gravy, guys? Do we have any butter sauce?
[Everyone starts talking over each other at once such that conversation is unintelligible.]
IZZY: So, what’s next?
[Upbeat guitar music accompanies the credits.]