People tend to have strong feelings about the Taste of Chicago one way or another — for some, it’s an unbreakable summer tradition, others wouldn’t be caught dead within ten blocks of the lakefront for the entire duration of the festival. Add another reason for those Taste-shunners to feel superior about their abstinence: the Chicago Reporter notes that the Taste is responsible for an extraordinary amount of food waste, with more than a ton of food discarded at the 2008 festival — a four percent increase over 2007, and a 27 percent upgrade over 2006.
Why all the waste? Department of Public Health officials prowl the Taste, and require vendors to discard any food that doesn’t make grade — so this is at least as much a commentary on the health and cleanliness habits of the restaurants as it is one of general wastefulness. For several years running, the number-one violator has been <Bacino’s of Lincoln Park: over the course of 2007’s ten-day festival, inspectors cited 11 violations leading to the discarding of 434 pounds of food — in just one single day, a DPH inspector ordered the disposal of 198 pizzas, claiming they were “detrimental to health and unfit for human food.” Ew. [Chicago Reporter, via Merge]