Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for Turks, and a weekend breakfast out is almost an exclusive event for many. You either opt for a few fixed dishes, all-you-can eat buffet or "serpme," a mix of specialties of a traditional Turkish breakfast. Serpme, which literally means "spreading," involves a wide variety of dishes spread on the table - often more than you can eat. It also causes more food waste, experts warn.
Aziz Akgül, who heads the Turkish Foundation for Waste Reduction (TİSVA), says this breakfast "model" causes food waste totalling TL 100 billion every year - a significant figure that is enough to ring alarm bells when combined with wasting bread, another unfortunately popular type of waste in bread-loving Turkey.
Akgül says serpme breakfasts evolved from a popular pastime into a culture of waste. Figures by TİSVA show Turkey wastes food worth TL 214 billion a year, or 12 million tons. Akgül says although Turkey is in the 65th spot among 67 countries with high food waste, serpme breakfasts still contributes a major portion of the waste. He notes that items like olives, cheese, tomatoes, butter, jam and eggs as well as bread served for the breakfasts often go to waste as customers in restaurants serving the breakfast tend to not to eat all that is served. "This is a behavioral disorder," he criticizes.
He highlighted the need for "mobilization" against the culture of waste and the need for change in the serpme breakfast model to serve customers only dishes they specifically ask for. Akgül also points out that food waste was also high in hotels offering "all-inclusive, ultra-inclusive" services to customers where they can have at least three meals a day, along with snacks at all-you-can eat buffets. "Food waste is still a big problem for Turkey," he warned.