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At Taste Before You Waste we recognise that individual impact and commitment to the healthy and sustainable future of the planet comes in many forms. And one of the most important ways to have an influence closer to home is to use your vote to bring into political power parties and individuals that are committed to a sustainable future. Whether you have already decided where to cast your vote, or are still weighing up your options, information is key! So we have searched the manifestos of all the parties participating in Amsterdam’s 2018 municipal elections so you can check your party’s green policies, or be inspired by the innovations of others.

The vast majority of parties have reaffirmed a commitment to the Sustainability Agenda set out by the municipality in 2015, which centred around the five main areas of energy, air quality, a circular economy, flooding and the sustainability of the municipal organisation itself. The most important aims included an improvement in green energy (through energy saving in homes and companies, as well the encouragement of energy-neutral building) and the commitment to only having emission-free, or vehicles that are as clean as possible driving in the city in 2025. The agenda also set a goal of 65% of household waste being separated for useful reuse by 2020, and the municipality itself reducing its CO2 emissions to 45% less than they were in 2012 by 2025. Almost all parties also noted that they wanted to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy that prevents people from making a positive contribution to their environment.

Below we have highlighted not only where the parties have talked about going above and beyond the aims laid out in the Sustainability Agenda, but also the innovative and original green policies they have come up with to keep the city of Amsterdam sustainable for generations to come.

 

 GroenLinks (GL)

Jumping out of GroenLinks’ manifesto, which (as expected) contains a very healthy commitment to green issues, is their opposition to the plans for Lelystad Airport. Believing that the expansion plans for the airport are bad for the climate and air quality as well as the peace of local residents they propose to prevent the expansion through Amsterdam’s position as co-owner of Schiphol Airport. They will use this shareholding, as well as the city’s other shareholdings in the port and the Afval Energie Bedrijf (the company converting waste into energy) to bring more attention to corporate social responsibility.

Not stopping at a commitment to emission-free vehicles in Amsterdam, the party want to make the city centre entirely car free in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions in the city. They will also tackle the gas problem by taking entire districts off gas, transitioning them to green energy one at a time. And in an appeal to organisations like our own, GroenLinks have said that they will join forces with the growing, green, social movement of grassroots sustainable initiatives and circular companies.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.groenlinks.nl/sites/groenlinks.nl/files/downloads/page/Verkiezingsprogramma%202018-2022.pdf

 

Democraten 66 (D66)

Largely based around decentralizing systems so that more power is given to individuals and neighbourhoods to create a greener Amsterdam, D66 have a few notable green policies that stand out from the other parties. On the energy question, D66 have noted that since there will be an increased reliance on electricity as the city is weaned off natural gas, they will investigate the introduction of neighbourhood batteries to provide local sources and storage of green energy.

Again, in aiming to give more power to the individual, D66 wants tenants and residents of floors without their own roof to be given the opportunity to install solar panels on their buildings. They also want to make the existing Sustainability Fund more available to informal groups – people who want to make a small investment to buy double glazing for their street for instance.

In terms of moving to a more circular economy that decreases waste, D66 have focused on building. They propose that materials that are easily stored during demolition work must be recorded in a public database, which would allow builders to estimate which materials already available for circular construction. 

Read more about their plans here: https://verkiezingsprogramma.d66.nl/amsterdam/programma/duurzaamheid-en-luchtkwaliteit/

 

 Vokspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie (VVD)

Though VVD have put a focus on improving public transport in the city to cope with the rising population, they stress that car transportation will remain a part of Amsterdam. To this end they want to add more parking spaces in the city (preferably underground) to free up space for pedestrians and cyclists. Residents with over-polluting cars, however, will not be able to receive a new parking permit and the VVD will provide financial support to help residents make the transition to cleaner vehicles.

The VVD also wants to convert the existing municipality sustainability fund into a public-private organisation that includes business and residents working together to a clean, liveable, and sustainable Amsterdam. They believe that this will encourage innovative initiatives from citizens and businesses and contribute to research focused, tailor-made solutions for Amsterdam.

In terms of waste reduction, in the long term the VVD wants to move towards a system where everyone pays for the amount of waste that they throw away, to encourage people to think about reuse and waste separation – though seeming like a strong move against waste production, the SP’s position that this will lead to Amsterdammers dumping their waste in public spaces should be held in mind.

Read more about their plans here: https://www.vvdamsterdam.nl/uploaded/www.vvdamsterdam.nl/files/5a534c1a3f989/vvdverkiezingsprogrammadurfenoptimisme.pdf

 

Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA)

The PvdA are very keen to encourage local sustainable energy cooperatives, working together with neighbouring municipalities to do this as efficiently and effectively as possible. They also specify their commitment to green roofs – making half of our flat roofs green or full of solar panels by 2025 (the equivalent space to 600 football pitches!).

In terms of energy, the PvdA have noted that the imminent closing of the coal-fired Hemweg power station will leave 200 employees without work, and they want to examine renewable alternatives that would give these employees a direct, green alternative to their current employment, helping them get back to work as soon as possible. As more windmills come to supply the city with renewable energy, residents will be invited to take a share in this and themselves profit from the profit, with the hope that will increase feelings of ownership and support.

One of the only parties to talk about diet as a factor of sustainability, they will promote a diet with less animal products and more vegetables due to the pressure that meat production puts on the environment – trying to make eating healthily afforadable for everyone.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam2018.pvda.nl/downloads/PvdA_Verkiezingsprogramma_Amsterdam_2018.pdf

 

Socialistische Partij (SP)

The SP join others in promoting significant green action. Rather than waiting for individuals and corporations, they want to put solar panels on unused roofs themselves. Alongside this they want to create a system where those who have no solar panels or green roofs where it is possible to do so will be fined. They also want to approach all Amsterdammers via a municipal energy saving company that will invest in the sustainability of housing corporations and private individuals. They will make proposals to individuals to make their homes mores sustainable, with the municipality taking over the energy and sharing the energy savings with the homeowner.

Straying from the VVD’s position they are opposed to charging a fee for the quantity of waste handed in by individuals as they think that, in practice, this will lead to many Amsterdammers dumping their waste in public spaces.

Looking to big business, the SP also wants to use its shareholding in Schiphol airport to put an end to the many flights that result from the use of the airport as a kerosene hub. They will also not renew a contract with ING because of their climate-unfriendly investment policy, instead looking for a more sustainable and ethical home banker.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.sp.nl/standpuntenlijst/duurzaamheid

 

Forum voor Democratie (FvD)

The FvD have not put out a statement with any specific green policies and they recently released an article which argues that solar panels are not economically viable in Amsterdam.

Read about their policies here: ttps://amsterdam.fvd.nl/standpunten

 

Partij voor de Dieren (PvdD)

With a tag line of ‘from ego-centred to eco-centred’, the PvdD certainly state their firm commitment to a greener Amsterdam. They particularly focus on the green spaces in Amsterdam – wanting to increase them to help Amsterdam become more resistant to the flooding that will inevitably come along with climate change. One way of doing this is through connecting nature areas through the existing ‘Nature Network Netherlands’ which in turn increases biodiversity. They also propose an infrastructural solution to flooding in the city – wanting to replace the sewerage system in 2022 to cope with the increased precipitation.

They also point out that the energy loan which is now available to Amsterdammers (which helps individuals make their homes more sustainable) was the implementation of an initiative proposed by the PvdD.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.partijvoordedieren.nl/dossiers

 

DENK

Credit must be given to DENK, a party only formed in 2015 after splitting off from PvdA, for including such a detailed and extensive green policy in their manifesto. They note that they are not only promoting their green agenda for the good of Amsterdammers, but because the activities of the Netherlands disproportionately create environmental pressure in other parts of the world, especially in developing countries. To this end they are calling for companies that contribute to the demolition of developing countries to be named and shamed.

DENK also points out their concern that the target of 14% sustainable energy in the Netherlands by 2020 (that was set out in an energy agreement in 2013) will not be met. They also, however, think that that target was far too low to begin with. Their alternative objectives will give preference to sun and wind energy with targets of 40% clean energy by 2030 and `100% by 2050. They hope to achieve this through increased taxation of dirty energy and fuel and an improvement of infrastructure and subsidies to make as many homes as possible energy-neutral.

Special mention must also be given to DENK as the only party to put the reduction of food waste as a specific topic of their manifesto – hoping to remove unnecessary rules so that good food is no longer thrown away and encouraging companies to make agreements with charities on food surpluses. In Amsterdam they say that they will support local residents in their green initiatives helping to provide neighbourhoods with vegetable gardens and urban farming as well as making municipal land that is not being used available for green projects.

Read more about their plans here: https://www.bewegingdenk.nl/amsterdam

 

Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA)

The CDA do not have an extensive green policy, but note that they want big cities to sit down with the national government, institutional investors, housing corporations and other parties to jointly commit to a plan of action for building sufficiently sustainable, energy-efficient family homes. They also want to encourage cycling in the city and to manage the traffic circulation on the basis of current air pollution figures.

Read more about their plans here: https://d2vry01uvf8h31.cloudfront.net/Afdelingen/Noord_Holland/Amsterdam/2017/2018%20Stadsmanifest%20CDA-G5.pdf

 

Bij1 

Bij1, along with DENK, are another party to mention their commitment to green policies to aid those in the global south. They take a hard line against companies with poor sustainability records – dissolving all ties with those who cannot meet the highest green standards.

They are also committed to biodiversity, wanting to promote afforestation and phasing out chemical pesticides and herbicides. They also are the only party to mention green education – promoting climate justice as a topic in schools and encouraging children to think about sustainability.

Read more about their plans here: https://amsterdam.bij1.org/programma/ 

 

Partij van de Ouderen (PvdO)

The PvdO have not put out a statement with any specific green policies.

50+

The 50+ party have not put out a statement with any specific green policies.

 ChristenUnie (CU)

The ChristenUnie have stated their commitment to a sustainable Amsterdam, and noted the municipality’s important role to play in achieving this. They are promoting cars without emissions and energy-neutral homes as the norm and have committed to the responsible handling of space and landscape in the Netherlands.

‘A lot of times people question whether we even need feminism anymore,’ Tammy Sheldon tells me. But, as she goes on to articulate persuasively, ‘There is simple logic and clear data that indicates that we are a long way from equality in the Netherlands. And that’s not just referring to a pay gap, or to sexual harassment, there’s a whole range of issues.’

It is, indeed, a whole range of issues that Tammy Sheldon, who last year became lead organiser of Women’s March, The Netherlands (WMNL), cares deeply about. Rushing into our meeting apologising for multitasking on her phone, she was reeling from the news of the death of Orlando Boldewijn, a young, gay, black boy from Rotterdam who had been missing for over a week before police were able to locate his body. It doesn’t take long after our interview for WMNL to issue a statement calling on the government and authorities to prioritize LGBTQI safety in The Netherlands, firmly laying bare the fact that LGBTQI individuals face nearly twice the level of violence that heterosexual people face, whilst sending their support to the victim’s family.

I can tell that this recognition, of the multiple and intersecting issues facing women and minorities in the Netherlands, is not something Tammy takes lightly: ‘the simple attitude we come from is that we are always stronger together. We cannot move forward with any kind of tangible change, unless we’re all in this together.’ Of course, it’s very easy to talk the intersectional talk and much harder to walk the walk. As the Women’s March spread internationally from its origins in the U.S. in the wake of Trump’s election last year it has come up against a wealth of, often valid, criticisms. Too white, too rich and too transphobic have been just some of the accusations thrown at its feet.

Tammy in the middle, on the left organiser Cecilia Gomez Engler of Women’s March Barcelona, and on the right indigenous activist Rachel Heaton, A Standing Rock Water Protector, credits: Tammy Sheldon

Refreshingly, these are not issues that Tammy steps around. ‘By definition, if you are in a position to be an activist you automatically have a degree of privilege,’ she acknowledges, ‘You are in an economic situation that allows you to take time to follow an issue as opposed to hold down three jobs, so by definition the Women’s March is coming out of a large base of white, middle-class women. There is no denying it.’ It is because of this that Tammy stresses that that privilege needs to be used effectively, in order to be useful allies to those less able to go out to a march on a Saturday afternoon and wave a witty sign around. A movement filled with performative activism and void of concrete action is clearly not the kind of future she envisions for the Women’s March in this corner of the world.

That is, of course, the strength but also the difficulty of being a part of such a huge, global movement. In order to cultivate a positive legacy for WMNL there is the challenge of weaving through the stray problematic tendencies that tarnish (and can so easily be used to tarnish) the women’s movement. This has to be done whilst pulling together the thousands of threads that have come together to form a hopefully unbreakable social force, and indeed, to use that force to bring about meaningful change in the Netherlands. The fact that Tammy acknowledges (and rejects) the notion that could be seen to arise with some sectors of the Women’s March across the world – that women’s rights were all of a sudden the most important issue on the agenda and that there hadn’t been protests and activist movements worth attending until the disruptive political events of 2017 – is crucial to the success of WMNL going forward.

At the first march in 2017, credits: Tammy Sheldon

Tammy is quick to point out those who have been fighting against inequality long before this most recent wave of popular activism. Poignantly, she notes that before March for Our Lives (the present marches being organised against gun violence in the US) there have been young black women – in the Black Lives Matter movement particularly – fighting against gun violence for years. ‘Not to take away in any way, shape or form what Emma González and the rest of those teenagers have done – they are just awesome heroes in my book, but it does mean that there is this kind of disappearance of people who are already active, and are often doing so with far greater personal risk to their lives, on a day to day basis.’ Tarana Burke, she points out, has been a case in point, having started and campaigned for the ‘Me Too’ movement twelve years before it was catapulted into the mainstream.

It is this kind of recognition that Tammy is promoting in the Netherlands. A manifesto is currently being developed by WMNL in collaboration with multiple activist organisations in the Netherlands, including PROUD (the Dutch Union for Sex Workers), Pink Terrorists (an LGBT organisation promoting the strength of the community) and New Women Impact Hub (who focus on the needs of refugee and migrant women) amongst others. These organisations are jointly working on a document that will be used to bring about change for women and minority communities in the Netherlands. Giving a platform to these voices is one of the most important reasons for this manifesto. ‘It’s not that the world needs another list of demands or manifesto per se,’ Tammy explains, ‘the difference here is people who are not necessarily at the table have a place now to come in.’

And come in they must. The fact that Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands, is without a single abortion clinic for the first time since the 1970s, and the abortion pill is problematically included in the criminal code should be enough to silence any of those who suggest we no longer need feminism. This is not to mention that despite the legality of sex work in the Netherlands propping up the country’s image as one of the most liberal in the world, sex workers are still required to navigate around restricted access to basic healthcare services. There remains a larger income pay gap between men and women in the Netherlands than the EU average. Women and particularly women of colour, migrant women, disabled women, and LGBTQI people are hugely underrepresented in leadership positions in politics and other sectors. The list goes on, and it is clear that the Netherlands cannot rest on its image of progression and liberal politics – something that WMNL clearly has no intention of doing.

But there is an appetite for change, and Tammy is clear in her intention to provide a narrative that is ‘positive, humanistic, inclusive and something other than the fear and the hate that is being pushed by the right.’ There is a huge energy being thrown towards the feminist movement across the world and in the Netherlands, and as Tammy declares, ‘that energy is going to be turned into fuel.’

ResQ in action

(c) Timo Beck

You use them to navigate through the city, to communicate with friends and to search for the love of your life – mobile apps. Their field of application is so diverse; why not use them to make the world a better place? Many people before had this exact same thought. Today we can benefit from their ingenuity because they developed apps to fight food waste. Taste Before You Waste checked out the most innovative apps that you could use to reduce discarded food yourself.

ResQ:

There is too much food left from the buffet at a hotel? The smoothies at the juice bar should be consumed before tomorrow? All those unwanted goodies would find their way into the trash bin if Tuure Parkkinen would not have come up with a cool idea. He is the CEO of the Finnish app ResQ, which aims to connect restaurateurs with potential customers. ResQ is available in 22 European cities and is currently entering the Malaysian market. In Amsterdam you will find more than 55 restaurants, cafés, bakeries and bars participating in the fight against food waste. They offer meals at a reduced price that would otherwise have been thrown out. You can check the deals through the ResQ app. It’s available for iOS, Android and as a web app.

How does it work?

  • Open ResQ and allow the app to locate you.
  • You will see all restaurants that participate.
  • Set your dietary preferences. You would like to rescue vegetarian or vegan food? You can filter deals based on that.
  • Order the food and pay through the app.
  • Pick up your goodie at the restaurant.

Tip: In most cases it is no problem to eat your meal straight away at the restaurant instead of taking it with you. Just ask them! If you are curious, ask for the surprise menu. The chef will prepare you an individual meal from yummy leftover products. The ResQ approach has great potential to use resources effectively – for restaurateurs as well as for customers. Save yourself some money and save the planet some troubles.

Thuisafgehaald

Getting to know your neighbours, trying new cuisines and preventing food from getting thrown out? Thuisafgehaald combines all three. Hungry people can check out meals through the app or the website. If you cooked too much, simply share your meals with others. Founder Marieke Hart thinks the world can be made a better place if people are willing to share food. Her vision is to bring people together and this has also a practical side effect: Food won’t get wasted.  The service is available all over the Netherlands

How does it work?

  • Register at Thuisafgehaald and indicate your postcode.
  • You will get daily notifications about available dishes in your neighbourhood.
  • You can also actively search for meals. If you found anything appealing, click the pick-up button “afhalen”.
  • You will get the exact address and contact information.
  • Pick up your meal and meet your neighbour.

You want to know more about how to save food through Thuisafgehaald? Watch their clip on youtube.

 

Too Good To Go

The name says it all: It’s all about food that’s too good to become waste.  The mission is simple: Save food, save money, save the planet. The Danish Too Good To Go company offers its service in Denmark, Norway, the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and Australia. Unfortunately the app is not available in the Netherlands yet. In all other seven destinations Too Good To Go connects local restaurants with customers.

How does it work?

  • Download the app or register on their website.
  • Search for restaurants in your area.
  • Select a reduced meal and pay via credit card.
  • Pick up the food within the designated time.
  • Enjoy!

Olio

Love food, hate waste. Olio wants you to care about the environment by sharing leftovers with others. The app is available for households and businesses.

How does it work if you offer food?

  • Take a photo and add a description of the food product.
  • Provide pick up details.
  • Welcome a hungry person with a smile.

How does it work if you want food?

  • Install the app or visit their website.
  • Look for offers. You do not have to pay.
  • Pick up your product and enjoy.

These four apps are only few examples of many food saving apps out there. We from Taste Before You Waste checked them out for you. Because we like their concept, we share them. You are currently using different apps to reduce food waste? Tell us about them. Let’s fight food waste together by using smart technology!

 

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Two people, two bakfietsen, one mission: save edible food from getting wasted. Thanos and I meet at 10:30 AM. He is a food ambassador for Taste Before You Waste and usually does the Wednesday food pick-ups. Today he takes me along his weekly route. Our goal is to go to markets in east Amsterdam and collect goodies that otherwise would get discarded.  The meals for the Wasteless Wednesday Dinners are prepared with this rescued food. It is a sunny Wednesday and as Thanos calls it “a good day to learn how to ride a bakfiets”. This statement concerns me because I have never tried to ride such a cargo bike before. After today’s pick-up session I will know how to get such a huge bike uphill; even though it is filled with countless kilograms of vegetables. Remark: Only try this if you are already used to ride a normal bike in Amsterdam. Otherwise you will be simply overwhelmed by Amsterdam’s busy traffic.

(c) Sophie Minihold

Thanos: A happy food ambassador during the Wednesday pick up. (c) Sophie Minihold

The food pick-up
In case you were wondering; my first ride with an empty bakfiets happens without any complications. Our first stop is a bakery where we get – now hold on tight – a piece of chocolate cake!  What a delicious start! The next stop is a Turkish supermarket. The shop owner gives us various crates of salad, green beans, carrots and eggplants/aubergines.  The bakfiets fills up quickly. According to Thanos this has not happened in a very long time. The surplus of food might be due to the changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures. Because the bike is full, we need to get the second bakfiets. Also this rapidly fills up after we visited three other shops. Next step: Navigate the heavy cargo bike to the Dokhuis Galerie. We have to overcome two steep bridges on our way home. Fortunately Thanos supports me during the critical – uphill! – stage. Due to months of preparing my legs for such exertions (ergo riding my bike every day), I am doing pretty well and we make it back to Dokhuis safely.

(c) Roel van Bakkum

Sophia is sorting out red pepper. (c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

The cooking
“We hardly ever had so much food before”, says Sophia, todays coordinator of the Wasteless Wednesday Dinner, when she first sees the amount of rescued food.  Iceberg lettuce, green beans, peppers, tomatoes, artichoke, carrots, potatoes, spinach, apples, watermelons are piling up in the headquarter of Taste Before You Waste. Here at Plantage Dokhuis food ambassadors are sorting, washing, peeling, cutting and preparing the meals for the Wasteless Wednesday Dinner.  The food ambassadors are mainly students and Taste Before You Waste interns. Every Wednesday they start the preparation at 2:30 PM. Until we can serve you yummy dinner, some steps have to be taken:

Step#1: Get an overview of the goodies.

Step #2: Decide what can be made with it.

Step #3: Cook it, bake it, broil it, toast it.

(c) Roel van Bakkum

Time pressure and hard work? No problem for our diligent TBYW food ambassadors. They are the best! (c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

Due to the fact that we saved so much food during this pick-up, our amazing food ambassadors have to split into groups to do all three steps simultaneously. The distribution of tasks is different each week and relies for a huge part on the amount of rescued food. While some are still sorting products, others are already peeling carrots and cucumbers, or are cutting tomatoes. I ask a girl about her plan for all those tomatoes. Her answer is straight forward “I like tomatoes, and I know the recipe for gazpacho. That’s why the starter will be gazpacho.” Being part of the Taste Before You Waste team means bringing in your own ideas and getting them heard. The food ambassadors are the most essential part of the Wasteless Wednesday Dinners. Because of their hard work you can enjoy meals made with love and support reducing food waste.

(c) Roel van Bakkum

(c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

(c) Roel van Bakkum

(c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dinner
The doors open at 6:30 PM. The chalkboard at the entrance gives you a preview of today’s luxurious menu. As every week, three courses have been prepared. Due to the amount of iceberg lettuce, the main dish is a rich salad with roasted veggies. Even the dessert, yummy carrot muffins, includes vegetables. Taste Before You Waste Dinners are a source of vitamins and you can enjoy it for a suggested five Euro donation. This Wednesday we welcome around 70 guests. All seats – upstairs and downstairs – are taken up  quickly. Now it is not only Thanos and me with a mission; it is 70 people who save edible food from getting wasted, and – let me tell you, it feels really good.

(c) Roel van Bakkum

Happy people and loads of good food at the Wasteless Wednesday Dinners! (c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

 

 

(c) Sophie Minihold

(c) Sophie Minihold

Once upon a time… or to be honest it is a common ritual and happens every now and then: You are hungry in your kitchen. You open the fridge hoping to find anything edible and grab one of these yoghurts, far in the back, you already had forgotten about. As a matter of routine, you take a look on the date label of the yoghurt and let out a resentful sigh. Shoot, it happened again! Its “best before” date passed four days ago. Suddenly you are not only hungry but rather find yourself between the devil and the deep blue sea: eating out-of-date yoghurt which might lead to food poisoning or toss it and therefore literally throw away your money? In order to decide what to do, and to free you from the evil date label clutches, read the tale of the expiration date first.

First of all: Your decision between tossing and eating the yoghurt is not that complicated. You should basically judge food by sight, smell and taste rather than by a printed date. Nevertheless you are not alone in your confusion about what to do with expired food. This is due to the fact that we do not produce our own food anymore. Therefore we need to rely on the manufacturer to tell us until when we can eat food without getting ill. As a consequence, various kinds of date labels found its way on food packaging.

The manufacturer decides

A date that tells you when groceries are not safe to eat anymore is in and on itself a reasonable idea. However, expiration labels are not an indicator for that. An expiration label rather tells you until when the manufacturer guarantees the best quality for a product regarding taste, sight and texture. After the expiration date goodies do not instantly become hazardous. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) show evidence that consumers have difficulties understanding the difference between date labels. In general there exist legally required date marks and labels used for stock control purposes. In Europe date marking is required by law. However what type of date label is printed on products is up to the manufacturer. If consumers do not understand the meaning of a date label, they might toss edible food out of needless safety concerns. The British Government has already made a first step to reduce potential confusion among customers; they reduced the amount of voluntary date marks.

“Best before” vs. “Use by”

The European Union also takes action to prevent food waste. Recent findings by the EU-funded research project FUSIONS show that 88 million tonnes of food are wasted in the EU every year. Therefore, the EU has launched a study devoted to date marking on food labels and food waste prevention. First study results are expected at the end of 2017. Another approach to decrease confusion regarding date labels is education. Best of all, you can take action yourself. Do not be part of this wasteful lifestyle and simply inform yourself about date labels!

  • The “best before” date tells you until when you can expect the best flavour. It relates to food quality, and therefore, is not a safety date. Fresh fruit, vegetables, wines, salt, sugar, vinegar and chewing gums are exempted from the “best before” date.
  • The “use by” date relates to food safety. It indicates the last date recommended for use and is especially important for highly perishable foods such as fresh fish, meat and dairy products. This label is determined by the manufacturer.

The best strategy to flee from the land of confusion, where date labels live, is education. Be aware of the different date labels on products and judge the quality of food yourself. Expiration dates are nice indicators; however your sight and smell are unbeatable. And they lived happily ever after… if they trusted their taste-buds.

©Peg Leg Films

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.

Wasting food and not caring about it? This happens everyday. ©Peg Leg Films

Perfection
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.

Food Waste_Hummus

Grant found an incredible amount of discarded hummus. ©Peg Leg Films

True value
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.

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