In February the Taste Before You Waste Team said goodbye to old interns and welcomed new ones. This meeting was the perfect occasion for a screening of a food waste awareness documentary. We watched the food waste story “Just Eat It” by Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer and enjoyed yummy smoothies made out of rescued fruits .We were all moved by the bluntness of the documentary and felt encouraged to keep up with our work of raising awareness towards food waste. The Taste Before You Waste Team agrees: You should watch Just Eat It! But if you are more into reading about food waste, then you are in luck! Go ahead and read the most important take-home messages of Just Eat It.
Just Eat It is film about the filmmakers Jen and Grant who love food. When they read that one third of all food produced in this world is wasted, they felt discouraged. The producers asked themselves: How much of the food is still edible? Their mission was to survive for six months on food that has been designated for the bin. Just Eat It features interviews with author and activist Tristram Stuart, food waste expert Dana Gunders and journalist and author Jonathan Bloom.
The first day
On day one, Jen and Grant are joking about their future life as dumpster divers, while in fact they do not have to search waste bins for food on their very first day. Grants brother is moving and he cleans his fridge. They are amazed by the amount off his discarded food that is still edible. According to author Jonathan Bloom, people in wealthy societies fill their fridges too much. “I had it last night, I don’t want it the next day” is a commonly known mentality with severe consequences. Between 15 % – 25 % of food are being wasted in households. Imagine: You go shopping and fill four bags with groceries. After you pay, you leave the shop and drop one of the four bags without thinking too much about it. You continue walking home with the remaining three bags. Even though this thought is ridiculous it happens every day.
People strive for perfection. The simple conclusion of “what look better, tastes better” is fixed in our mind. At least 20 % of food produced is left on the fields or gets discarded just because it is not perfect. Food activist Tristram Stuart reports that truckloads of bananas get scrapped due to the fact that they do not fulfil European cosmetic standards for food. There is no market for imperfect vegetables and fruits, therefore food get wasted. How do we overcome the pursuit of perfection? Keep in mind that what looks differently is not necessarily bad. Our mind-set plays an essential role when it comes to food waste. Imagine you host a dinner. When the dinner is over, there is no food left. Societal pressure keeps you thinking that you are not a good host because you could not be able to offer any food to a guest who has already eaten. This kind of thinking is twisted.
The first month
After one month, Jen and Grant run low on oil and honey. It is getting harder for them to keep up their standard of living. They question their decision of this project. Over the next days they find much more food than they could possible eat. Grants highlight: Several kilograms of dark chocolate. Jen uses a chalkboard to keep track of what has to be eaten first. This is one simple trick how to avoid food waste. The filmmakers do not want to re-waste food. Wasting food affects not only the food itself but rather a whole system. Imagine: If you want to grow apples, you need to buy land. You need to invest in an irrigation system to water the soil for the apple trees. The irrigation system needs energy. After your apple trees are full of juicy fruits, you need employees who pick them. As a last step you sell your apples to customers. They let them rot because they forgot about buying them. How would you feel?
As you saw in the example, food waste is very expensive. Reducing food waste would save a lot of money in the energy sector. Four percent of US energy consumption is used for the food that gets tossed anyway. The reduction in food losses leads to a decrease in the cost of food according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Reducing food waste is not only beneficial from a financial point of view; it also helps to preserve our planet. Wasting food is equivalent to the support of global warming. If aggregated food waste decomposes without air, methane is produced. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. It traps 34 times more heat than CO2 in the atmosphere as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Methane therefore has a huge impact on global warming.
At the end of their project, Jen and Grant have mass quantities of certain foods. The filmmakers are still fascinated if they find food in the bin. At the same time they feel guilty for being excited about food waste. During these six months they spent 200 dollars on groceries. In total, they rescued food with a considered value of 20.000 Dollar. Through the Just Eat It Project Jen and Grant experienced the true value of food.
We from Taste Before You Waste think that everyone should value food as a precious good. If you do not necessarily want to go dumpster diving in order to take action against food waste, simply come to one of our weekly Wasteless Wednesday Dinners. We prepare delicious meals out of rescued products for you. That way we appreciate the true value of food together.