Food waste is a problem worldwide. Statistics give varying pictures of what that means, but generally number crunchers agree around 40 percent of all food ends up being tossed away in one form or another, from field to plate. Behind the percentages is a staggering waste of land, seed, water, storage, fuel, transportation, and more.
A U.K. Organization is trying to change that. Their ultimate goal is to close their doors for want of supplies, i.e., food waste. Until then the Real Junk Food Project describes itself as “a rapidly growing organic movement of 100% food surplus Pay As You Feel cafés.”
The project started in Melbourne, Australia, where founders Adam Smith and Johanna Hewitt were living. They learned about the appalling amount of food waste and decided to do something about it. When they returned to Smith’s home town of Leeds in the north of England, they went freegan, joining friends to scavenge supermarket garbage bins for all the good food available there.
According to their Facebook page, Smith met people who supported his vision and offered him access to a struggling community kitchen. That led to the opening of a café staffed by volunteers and serving meals seven days a week, asking customers to pay whatever they were moved to give as compensation.
Thousands of meals later, the project runs on volunteers, hope and the vision of a waste-free food system. Keeping an effort like this going is never easy. A handful of committed souls are always at its heart. But this collaboration between catering professionals and food activists is providing quality meals, making a difference and offering an important reminder that carrots, potatoes and lettuce are gifts of the earth. They deserve our love and respect.
When we learn to honour the earth by eliminating food waste, the pay-as-you-feel café can close its doors. That would make Adam Smith a happy man. Until then, he is inspiring others to act on an important issue.