The cafe called NOVA, where only once a day customers ask for leftovers. Photo: Debbie
Asking for a doggy bag, is not something the Danes are comfortable doing. But if they can overcome their embarrassment, they can help to reduce the amount of food Denmark wastes each year.
Denmark is trying to reduce the amount of food they waste and become more sustainable in all aspects of daily life. One way to easily do this is to persuade Danes that asking for a doggy bag is an acceptable option.
According to Stop Wasting Food, a non-profit NGO committed to reducing food waste, Denmark annually wastes $2.93 billion worth of food.
A large percentage of food waste happens in restaurants. When customers don’t finish the food, it is thrown out rather than saved for later.
In Copenhagen, at Cafe Teateret (Skindergade 3 A), the waitress, Vibeke Larsen, said customers “hardly ever” ask for a doggy bag.
“They always finish their food and even if they don’t we just throw out the leftovers,” she said.
Customers at Cafe G (Kejsergade 2) in Copenhagen share a similar story.
“I never ask for a doggy bag. I normally eat all the food and even if I don’t, I wouldn’t take it home,” said Tanja Bolt, a woman smoking at an outside table with her friend.
“It’s not the culture to do that here,” she said, “I would feel awkward asking for a doggy bag.”
Bolt said that the reason was a combination of not a lot of food being left and the leftover food looking “bad.”
The doggy bag is quite a common phenomenon in America, where waiters frequently offer to bag up leftovers, with no embarrassment at all.
Many European nations also have a social stigma attached to asking for a doggy bag. An attitude surveyconducted in 2011 by Konsumentföreningen Stockholm found that 46% of Swedish people feel that asking for a doggie bag is embarrassing.
Reducing food waste is important because over 15 million children die of starvation every year, according to Stop Wasting Food. Cutting down on food waste can also help reduce CO2 emissions and conserve Earth’s natural resources.
Magdalena Wioszek, a waitress at Nova (Skindergade 34) said that customers ask for doggy bags about once a day. The restaurant throws away all of the leftover food.
When asked about why so few people take leftovers home, she answered, “They don’t want to look cheap. They want to enjoy the food inside.”
Wioszek also said that it is more common for customers to take home dishes like pizza or sushi because they are less messy.
The organization Stop Wasting Food is trying to encourage Danes to use their leftovers by publishing aLeftovers Cookbook. The book “give you ideas, techniques and recipes to use all your food” according to the summary of the book.
Three easy ways to reduce food waste are only purchasing the amount of food you need, prepare only the amount of food you will eat, and freeze leftovers to eat the next day.
Here at Cafe Teatret, hardly anyone asks for a doggy bag. Photo:Debbie