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Tristram Stuart, the Food-Waste Rebel:
When I was a teenager most of the food that I was giving my pigs was actually perfectly fit for human consumption. It was coming from supermarket dumpsters; bins full of food being locked and sent off to landfill sites. And I thought well I’m just scratching the surface here.
At least a third of the world’s food supply is currently being wasted. When you add it all up it amounts to an enormous environmental catastrophe and a major contributor to the scarcity of food in some parts of the world.
The ridiculously strict cosmetic standards laid down by supermarkets in Europe and America mean that farmers in Kenya waste thousands of tonnes of perfectly good food every single year right where there are millions of people hungry.
This is the food waste from one day of packing, in one plant in Kenya. Multiply that by many times and you start to see the scale and the gratuitousness of the global food waste scandal.
Tristram speaking to market stall holder: “So I want to take this but I also ... can I have a look at your other bins around the back?”
I’m going to take that because that is actually really really good pig food.
At root, what we need to change is society. We need to make everyone believe that food is far too valuable to waste.
I’m a founder of the charity, Feedback. What we do as an organisation is try and inspire people to take action in their own lives. That’s our number one objective - to spread the global food waste revolution. We find that the best way of doing that is to hold a massive free feast with food that otherwise would be wasted so people are having fun whilst building solutions and collaborating with each other to use food rather than throwing it away.
Tristram speaking at a food feast: “Supermarkets who used to reject stuff because it didn’t look perfect have changed their ways. Food redistribution has doubled in the UK since we launched our campaigns and we can, and we will, change the whole way the food system is being run and it’s our responsibility to do that”.
I’ve been campaigning on food waste for twenty-two years. In that period I have seen food waste gone from a neglected issue that no one knew about to one that is now treated as a global priority.
We can change this system and if we don’t no one else will!
Tristram Stuart is a National Geographic 2014 Emerging Explorer.
© National Geographic
What do you think about the amount of food that is wasted in your home, school or local shops? What can we do to waste less food?