Scrolling the headlines in a roundup of articles on food waste, I was drawn in by one that read “San Francisco pizzeria utilizing food waste is relocating to the Mission District.” The article was about Shuggie’s Trash Pie & Natural Wine, a restaurant opening later this summer that is “doubling down” to tackle food waste and climate change the best way the owners know how — “through super rad food.” The food waste entrepreneurs, Kayla Abe and David Murphy (a chef by training), got their start with The Ugly Pickle Co., which uses misshapen, rescued cucumbers and other vegetables to make a variety of pickled products. In the last two years, Ugly Pickle Co. has rescued 20,000 lbs of “unloved produce,” inspiring Abe and Murphy to open a pizzeria that features upcycled foods.
“It is only in our modern consumption economy that we’ve started applying beauty standards to our produce, deeming perfectly delicious yet “ugly” veggies unfit for consumption,” note the founders. “So what better vehicle for all this beautiful, California produce than a perfect wood-fired pie. We’re ready to show the food industry — a notoriously wasteful one — that an innovative alternative can thrive.” They add that Shuggie’s is “on a mission to democratize climate action through delicious, approachable food. Our rapidly rotating menu will feature any surplus or unsellable produce our farm partners have on hand, and incorporate veggie offcuts to ensure nothing is wasted. We’re creating a closed-loop food system, making space for produce typically tilled back into the soil.”
Abe and Murphy raised close to $60,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. The funds are being used to renovate the restaurant’s kitchen and purchase a walk-in cooler. The Ugly Pickle Co. will use the kitchen as its new production facility.