Waste not want not: Food projects in the UK
Do you ever throw away food at home? Have you ever thought about what happens to the food that shops and supermarkets don’t sell? Well, you might be shocked to find out that approximately one third of food produced for human consumption gets lost or wasted. What’s more, around 800 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy life.
Many people in the UK and across the world are trying to do something about this imbalance and make use of thrown-out food that is perfectly edible. For example, there is a café in Leeds (UK) whose meals are all created using unsold food from supermarkets, including a lot of vegetables, fruit, fish and other items. This unwanted food is turned into delicious soups, casseroles, sauces and curries that feed the hungry people of Leeds. Customers simply pay what they can afford, or help with the washing up. In just ten months, 10,000 people were fed at this café, using twenty tonnes of unwanted food!
Also, last year the UK’s first food waste supermarket opened. The supermarket is near Leeds and works on a 'pay as you feel' basis; customers pay whatever they want for the produce. The stock changes daily but you can usually find things such as pasta, fresh vegetables, sauces, fruit and milk there. Some low-income families have said that it has changed their lives.
'Fuel for School' is another food waste project. Surplus food from supermarkets such as dairy, vegetables, fruit and bread is used to feed hungry schoolchildren whose families may not be able to afford to buy them lunch or snacks.
Some people in the UK practise 'skipping', which means going to bins and skips and finding food in there to eat. Often the food is packaged, within its use-by date and is perfectly fine to eat!
I have always been very conscious of the amount of food we waste, and I very rarely throw food away. I lived in Leeds for three years, and have had lunch at a food waste café, and it was delicious. I couldn’t believe that it was all food that supermarkets had thrown away! I have also participated in projects such as 'Foodcycle', using supermarkets’ unwanted food to cook meals for refugees and asylum seekers.
More cafés like this are being opened in other parts of the UK such as Bristol and Manchester, and it is now becoming a worldwide phenomenon. I think this is an amazing initiative as food waste is one of the world’s biggest problems. I also believe that the law should be changed, so that supermarkets don’t throw away so much perfectly good food!