What bakeries do with their leftovers

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Haven't you always wondered what bakeries do with their leftovers? You can bet it's crossed my mind a time or two. That's why I made it my mission to find out.  

I learned that there isn't much waste in most bakeries, and there is some recycling of products going on. Day-old bread is often used to make bread crumbs and if the bakery is also a cafe, the bread is sometimes used to make bread pudding or frittatas.  

Angel Food Bakery uses the cake shaved off from custom-shaped cakes to make their yummy cake balls. Bleeding Heart Bakery does, too. 

But there are items which can't be recycled. Many bakeries and gourmet food shops such as Foodstuffs, with locations in the northern suburbs, offer their day-old bread, bagels, muffins, scones and croissants at 50 percent off.

While at least one bakery owner admits his lawyers advise him to throw the leftovers away (which is not only a shame but encourages dumpster-diving), I'm happy to report that most bakeries I contacted give their leftover, made-from-scratch products away. Here's the inside scoop on what some of our local bakeries do with the remains at the end of the day:

Deerfields Bakery: Their goodies go to PADS homeless shelter as well as church food pantries, nursing homes and health care centers.

Weber's Bakery: Whatever products this southwest side shop doesn't sell the first day, they're put on sale for 1/2 price the next day. On the third day, the goods are put aside for Pacific Gardens Mission.

Sweety Pies Bakery: Leftovers go to ELL Parent Center in Skokie as well as area schools, churches and synagogues.

SweetPea Cakes: These Barrington and Crystal Lake shops donate their leftover goods to Heartland Hospice in Palatine for families of loved ones who are there for care.

Sweet Whimsy Pastry Shoppe: Although this Long Grove bakery sells some of their leftovers at half off on the second day, they also donate goodies to local hospitals, firehouses and a long term care facility for the staff and residents to enjoy. But neighboring merchants and lucky random customers also benefit!

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  • Love Weber's Bakery!

  • It's also worth noting that Panera Bread in Crystal Lake gives its leftovers to the PADS Shelters serving McHenry County. That boosts their image in my eyes.

  • Great subject.

    I used to own a bakery and it was my experience that getting rid of unsold product was a serious pain. I didn't sell day-old product because I didn't want to undercut sales of the fresh product we labored to produce every day. I'd make efforts to donate unsold perishables but often that meant I had to deliver them to the recipients (food pantries) myself, which meant an extra hour or so of work at the end of a long day. And occasionally I'd arrive at a food pantry or soup kitchen only to find it was inundated with food donations and wouldn't accept my delivery. Ultimately, I resigned myself to throwing product away, in some cases lots of it.

    The concern about wasting food is understandable because many of us were browbeaten as children to make all gone with our food because of starving children in China or our own families' memories of the Great Depression or other periods of extreme privation. But today we live in a country and, increasingly, a world that is threatened not with starvation but with the ills of overconsumption, particularly (some would argue) of the refined carbohydrates we are talking about here. We produce so much food in this country that disposing of the excess is actually a problem to write newspaper articles and blog posts about. And the recipients (presumably poor people) of the well-intentioned donations of bakery products are the people most likely to be suffering from obesity, diabetes and other symptoms of contemporary malnutrition.

    Maybe relegating bakery products to the Dumpster is not only the simplest and most cost-efficient way of disposing of them but also the healthiest!

  • In reply to Coolidge:

    Thanks for the insight! I do understand the points you make, but I think indulging in made-from-scratch bakery goods occasionally as part of an otherwise healthy diet is something most of us enjoy--especially me! And I think it's nice that some bakeries choose to share their leftover goodies with others.

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