TED Talk Review: Arthur Potts Dawson

Over the past few months I’ve posted a number of TED Talk reviews. There were some that I absolutely loved and others that left me feeling more ambivalent. The most recent talk that I viewed, Dawson’s discussion entitled “A Vision for Sustainable Restaurants,” is one that I appreciate, but don’t think is going to change the world.

TED Talk Opening

At its core, this talk brings up a lot of points around the statement that the restaurant and supermarket industries are the most wasteful industries we have. Between food that people leave on their plates, food that spoils before it sells, and a host of other things, there is an exorbitant amount of waste produced by each restaurant and supermarket. Dawson highlights how for every one calorie of food, ten calories go into producing it, meaning that food is wasteful before it even hits your taste buds. It’s a powerful statement, but by no means a shocking one.

Dawson Restaurant Chairs

After outlining the essential facts about food waste, Dawson moves on to examples of how he is trying to minimize waste in his own restaurants. The floors and chairs are sustainable and recyclable; patrons choose the amount of food they receive; orange trees are grown in car tires for both decoration and waste minimization. He uses his own restaurant as a template for his talk, but it just sounds like a laundry list of things that he believes make his restaurants better than others. This is where he starts to lose me because while I appreciate what his restaurants are doing, I doubt that his talk will convince anyone who isn’t into green issues to jump on board with these suggestions.

Dawson Orange Tree

When Tristram Stuart discussion deal with numbers and examples of how people who were going hungry need the viable option of eating this waste. However, Dawson doesn’t really bring up anything that convinces me his changes need to be implemented. He outlines how an environmentally conscious business is doable, but he fails to really drive how why people should care. It’s already an issue I believe in, so I agree with what he’s trying to do, but if I was coming into this with blind eyes, I’m not sure I would.

Dawson Final Message

This is a talk meant for people already well aware of the issues, which is a bit surprising since Dawson’s goal with his newer supermarket is to hit the less fortunate urban sphere that doesn’t know much about food waste. This 2010 talk might have been revolutionary four years ago, but I wasn’t immersed enough in the world of sustainability at that time to really know if this is true or not. Looking at this in 2014, the talk is already showing its age. Reducing waste is a topic I hear about fairly often nowadays, but there’s still been minimal change since 2010. What I’d like to see in the future is more talks dedicated to food sustainability that lack pretentiousness and really outline a plan that would appeal to companies that want to make a profit before they worry about saving the world. Dawson’s talk was just the bare bones on food waste, and while I might recommend it to someone who doesn’t know much about the topic, I do believe there are better talks out there that really push for change. If we need a food revolution, this isn’t the talk that champions that cause.


About A Famished Foodie

Food geek, wannabe Parisian, and lover of polka dots. Author of A Famished Foodie and Superior Spider-Talk contributor. Bold wine, sour beer & dessert make me nerd out.
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3 Responses to TED Talk Review: Arthur Potts Dawson

  1. I love TED Talks. I have seen tons of them. My all time favorite is Danger of A Single Story. Changed my perspective on life entirely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. This one sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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