By: David Fikes, Vice President, Consumer/Community Affairs and Communication, Food Marketing Institute Celebrating Leftovers

We've all got them.  Containers pushed to the back of the refrigerator, cans in the pantry providing the foundation of the tottering lego of food items on the shelves and perfectly good mystery packages of food whose original purpose has long been forgotten.  Now there is an imaginative and tasty use for those odd, ignored food items that have been sitting in the cupboard like the playthings on the island for misfit toys.  They can be the genesis of a tasty, palate expanding adventure.  With a little help from Supercook Keith Cooperman you can engage friends, family and neighbors in a meal extravaganza that transforms old food stuffs into new menu possibilities.

At the Food Waste Innovation Challenge last week at FMI/GMA's Sustainability Conference in Denver, Cooperman and five other entrants pitched their food waste solutions to the conference attendees.  Cooperman's creative contribution to the contest was a website designed to guide folks to creative new uses for the food that has taken up residence in their refrigerators and pantries.  On Cooperman's site - - users enter the items they have and want to use and then choose among the recipe possibilities it offers.

It is commentary on the caliber of ideas presented at the Challenge that Cooperman's website did not win.  But like all good ideas, his presentation  sparked creative suggestions from the panel of judges and conference attendees who identified - not only the economic and environmental  wisdom of his website, but its social value as well.  What a fun gathering to invite a few friends on something of a cooking scaveger hunt by asking they bring a wayward item or two from their pantries and then engage in a cooking party utilizing the resources of the  Supercook site.  Or what a creative educational activity during Family Meals Month, to let each member of the family choose a few items from the refrigerator or cupboard, enter them on the site and see what interesting possibilities it offers.  A family friendly game that teaches cooking,collaboration and conservation - and by the way, the food doesn't go to a landfill.