For the past couple months, I have been attempting to diet. I say attempting because I’m not really succeeding, but that’s fodder for a different post. Anyway, I go to the meetings when I can. At one of the meetings, members of the group were advocating throwing away food so that you don’t consume it. And I can see their point — I would rather not have the tempting food in my house. But I have major issues with just throwing food away.

A few months ago, I noticed that Jocelyn linked to a San Francisco based website encouraging people to “replate” their food. By the website’s definition, replate is:

To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so that they don’t go to waste.

So that’s what I’ve started doing with my leftovers to avoid bringing them home and consuming them. For years, I’ve looked for someone to give my food to when possible. And I’ve always had good experiences doing this. But sometimes you can’t find someone, or as a single woman in the city sometimes it’s just too late or scary to walk around looking for a person to give food to.

Replate’s founders, Axel Albin and Josh Kamler, don’t claim this is a new idea. “We didn’t invent the practice,” Axel told me on Monday. In fact, Josh remembers his parents replating leftovers 20 years ago. But they have given some structure to the movement. “The purpose of our project is to start the conversation,” said Axel. And start the conversation they have. Look around on the Internet and you’ll see varying opinions about whether replating is a good idea.

While the practice may be debatable in rural areas where leftovers may spoil or become litter, many of us live in cities where we see people digging through the trash for food on a regular basis. And packages I have left near my home are gone within an hour. A post on Serious Eats garnered a suggestion that people write “EDIBLE” on the outside of a package before leaving it out.

Albin and Kamler are calling this movement “open-source activism” and are hoping that interested parties take the seed that they’ve planted and run with it — creating stickers to put on replated items, changing the logo, or lobbying government for participation.

I find it refreshing, and can truly say that reading about replating changed the way that I act with my leftovers. And being able to plant an idea that results in a change in behavior is no small feat.

Replate: Leave your Leftovers 20 May,2008Jennifer Maiser

  • EB of

    There is a gentleman who sits across the street from Tartine and is always gifted with someone’s replated leftovers. Some days I’m convinced he eats better than most folks in the neighborhood. I like the idea of writing ‘edible’ on any bag/box left out– that just makes so much sense. I’ve always been a replater (but truth be told, I didn’t know there was a name for it). I’m glad someone is getting the organized word out. In San Francisco at least, it doesn’t make sense not to do this.

  • wendygee

    the Replate website has some cool downloadable posters and stickers available at their site. Love the logo too! which you can also download and use to spread the word.

  • wendygee

    Replate also has a Facebook group too!

  • Kei

    I know it’s silly to quote Garfield, but I can’t help it here. “Diet?! That’s DIE with a T!” I would tend to exercise more rather than not eat my leftovers, but everyone’s lifestyle is different.
    It’s definitely hard not to overeat if you eat out on a regular basis – and these days, who doesn’t? Another straightforward place to put your leftovers (other than your gut) is in the compost.


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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