Over ten thousand tons of food. That’s how much kitchen staff in Dutch restaurants shove off our plates every year, straight into the bin.
Surely there’s another way to deal with leftovers?
Stichting Natuur en Milieu (a Dutch Foundation for Nature and Environment) discovered that over half of restaurant customers would like to take their leftovers home, but daren’t ask. Another reason people hold back is because they've never heard of the solution. The doggy bag is not very common yet in The Netherlands. Such a shame!
In Leiden, Grand Cafe Vlot however provides doggy bags (in English, there is no Dutch equivalent). In particular the international students from the nearby Webster University, ask for them. Understandably so. In countries like America and Australia, doggy bags are a longstanding everyday utility in restaurants and bars.
So it’s high time to break the Dutch taboo on taking leftovers home. Thankfully, there are some new initiatives aimed at this. In 2014 an upmarket doggy bag was introduced here, the so-called Foodiebag. It’s a stylish package for inconspicuously taking your leftovers home with you.
You don’t even have to ask for it. Restaurants with a Foodiebag lay an information card on every table, along spoon clip for every customer. If you attach the spoon clip to the edge of your plate after a meal, the waiter knows that you wish to take the leftovers home. The food is neatly packaged and delivered to your table without any fuss.
Packagers in Leiden
We’re headed in the right direction. The Dutch Foundation for Nature and Environment has found that in 2015 more people took food home with them than in 2014. Besides, almost two thirds of the restaurant customers questioned thought that restaurant staff should offer a doggy bag if there’s food left on the plate. In 2014 that number stood at only 55.
In Leiden, too, we are collectively becoming more aware. Vlot packages your food for you. Are there any other food savers in our city?