The Real Junk Food Project – what an amazing project! Everyone needs to know about this, so we can get it spreading to every city in the UK.
So… I’m pretty passionate about two things: the waste problem in the Western world, and food. So, when it comes to FOOD WASTE – I go a little crazy.
In January 2017, a study by Waste and Resource Action Programme showed that in 2015, the amount of food sent to landfill was 7.3 million tonnes. That is £700 per year per family. What could you have done with £700 in 2015? Quite a lot, I imagine.
This is only one of the reasons that food waste is particularly upsetting to me. But it is not only economically wasteful, it is an insult to those who are going without enough food on a daily basis – some 795 million people. If the product comes from (or is) an animal, it is also an insult to that animal. Are we really at the height of 21st-century consumerism that we can afford to waste all of this food, all in the name of having any food available to us at the snap of our fingers in the supermarket? This is made all the worse by the fact that most food that we throw away actually doesn’t need to be thrown away…
The misleading nature of sell-by dates and use-by dates is not an argument I am getting into here – only to say that they ARE misleading. And we need to wake up to this instead of being completely blinded by whatever is written on the front of our plastic-wrapped produce. This is where The Real Junk Project comes onto the scene. I admit that until today, I had never heard of the project. I have used Approved Foods in the past, which again is another example of a great company selling out-of-date food for discounted prices. Have I ever had a problem with anything I’ve eaten? Of course not.
The Real Junk Project is similar in the way that it deals with products that are past that are unwanted by supermarkets and restaurants. I believe organisations like these are the future. I wrote a blog-post on skipping, and the potential illegality of it – projects like this take the risk factor out of taking discarded food and give it legitimacy. This is what we need. And, I would be tempted to approach any supermarket and restaurant and ask why it wouldn’t give its leftover/unused/unwanted food to such projects. What is there to lose? If the alternative is throwing it in the trash – then really what’s the harm in offering it to an organisation that will recycle it and offer it to those who are want it.
This is why The Real Junk Project is inspirational – they are not deceiving anyone or trying to make any profits. If you are willing to eat the produce, then you offer a donation for your shopping – there are no price tags! If you aren’t willing, well, that’s your loss – and you don’t need to set food in the shop. But it’s important to remember that the food IS EDIBLE – it complies with health standards.
The monetary angle is only a small one. It is not a charity. It is not a soup kitchen or a place for homeless or needy people. It’s not even about keeping the cost of your weekly shop down. It is about consuming food that is still edible rather than going to the supermarket to pay for food in its sell-by date. It’s about helping to minimise the food waste that would have occurred otherwise. In my view, it is comparable to the way any of us might prioritise eating something that has a sooner sell-by-date than something that has a long one in the fridge at home. What’s the difference?
And, surely seeing this food packaged nicely on shelves is better than seeing dumpsters piled high with uneaten food? Unfortunately, many people would still be unwilling to purchase food from such places. There is a fear of food past its sell-by-date, which to some extent is understandable. But use common sense! Even if you want to start on a small scale, at home, before you throw something away – look at it. Smell it. Even taste it. Applying a little common sense should tell you if the product is really off. We need to wake up.
Overall, we need to wake up. We need to see more of these waste supermarkets setting up so that they are not abnormal anymore. This is part of the problem – they are a rarity and are still feared. I see them growing in popularity and becoming an everyday occurrence. And wouldn’t this be fantastic? Somewhere that we can donate to as well as shop in.
in this article by the Independent, they reveal that the government failed in its target to reduce food waste. However – it is not the government’s responsibility to cut food waste. We are all to blame. It is so easy to sit back and pass judgement, but think – did you throw any food away recently that could have been avoided? I know I did. It’s a working progress – but opening our eyes to it is the first step.
As @RealJunkFoodProject says: “Let’s REALLY feed the world”
by Layla Hendow
PhD researcher at University of Hull