Tips for Eco-friendly Pizza from the Food Waste-fighting Duo at Shuggie’s Trash Pie
Can pizza help fight climate change? It’s an ambitious goal, but it might just be possible. At least that’s what David Murphy and Kayla Abe of Shuggie’s Trash Pie and Natural Wine are hoping. Their San Francisco-based pizza joint opened in April 2022 with a menu full of items designed to reduce food waste and make a positive environmental impact. Their dough uses discarded whey from the cheese-making process, green pesto made not with basil but with the tops of root vegetables, and less-popular cuts like pork jowls and salmon bellies make up the majority of their meaty toppings.
So what made David and Kayla decide to take “trash” and put it on their pizzas? The pair, who are partners in business and life, met at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market years ago and discovered a shared passion. They both felt strongly that the food waste they saw in their respective industries — David was the head chef at Whitechapel and Kayla’s the fourth generation of a farming family — was shocking. And when you see the numbers, you’ll understand why.
In the US, about 40% of all food is wasted. Roughly 20 billion pounds — that’s more than 9 million tonnes — of waste happens before food even hits grocery shelves or restaurants. Here in the UK, about 9.5 million tonnes of food gets wasted every year: the highest annual total in Europe. So what’s happening out there?
In short, farmers deal with supply and demand, meaning sometimes surplus crops can’t find a market. And we’re an aesthetically-minded world. When it comes to our fruits and veggies, we want them to be beautiful. Those three-legged carrots and blemished apples? They get tossed. Well, they did before David and Kayla (and people like them) got into the game.
With their first project, Ugly Pickle Co., David and Kayla began rescuing cosmetically damaged cucumbers and other vegetables from going into the bin and packaged them up as delicious pickles. They ran the venture successfully for three years before founding Shuggie’s. As David says, “Shuggie’s gives us the ability to take on so much more. We can process streams of waste food that are not just produce. We can rescue things from the dairy, fish and meat industries.”
We’re all for environmental responsibility at Ooni — we give 1% of our profits back to social and environmental causes — but we also love delicious pizza. What makes Shuggie’s special is that they haven’t sacrificed flavor for ethics. Their pizzas are a “cracker-y super-thin grandma style” that’s inspired by New York pizza spots Rizzo’s and Lazzara’s. The whey in their dough adds protein and a subtle tang that they describe as ”a milder sourdough flavor,” and David’s culinary background means they know how to turn any ingredient into a craveable topping.
David and Kayla have cracked the code on great garlic knots in addition to pizza. Instead of large doughy knots the size of a fist, theirs are quarter-sized, covered in a salsa verde made from “random greens” and topped with a ricotta made from local farmer’s surplus milk folded together with seasoned whipped cream to create a cloud of cheesy fluff.
Inspired by David and Kayla’s approach to food but don’t live in San Francisco? No problem: here are some top Shuggie’s-style tips to help you make your own kitchen a little more environmentally conscious and reduce food waste. Don’t be surprised if you’ve heard some of these ideas before. As David and Kayla said, this advice is old-school and falls mostly into the tried and true “waste not, want not” category.
Top Tips for Eco-Friendly Cooking from Shuggie’s
- Use all parts of your vegetables. Buy whole vegetables and make use of everything. Tops of root vegetables can be used in chimichurri, salsa verde and pesto. You can sweat kale stems and sauté them, or use them in soups.
- Talk to your butcher. There are lots of cuts that most people don’t request but are delicious. Make a pâté out of livers. Ask for a fish rack (aka the fish skeleton) and use the bits of fish left on the bones to make a delicious tartare. Think about the necks when it comes to lamb and veal. Go for fish bellies and collars. The bellies are where the delicious fat is!
- Get acquainted with your fridge and freezer. Freeze things when you’re not going to eat them before they go bad. Kayla likes to freeze chicken scraps for their dog in ice cube trays and defrost one for a pooch dinner treat. Learn how to best store your fruits and veggies so they last.
- Make a list. Be mindful of what’s already in your fridge and make a list when you go to the store. Buy just what you need, unless you know you can freeze extras for use later.
- Look for ingredients that are already upcycled. Shop in your supermarket reduced section, or pick “wonky” or “perfectly imperfect” produce. It all tastes the same!