Five thousand people enjoyed a free curry lunch in London’s Trafalgar Square last Friday.
The meal came courtesy of the ‘Feeding the Five Thousand‘ initiative aimed at highlighting the amount of waste there is in food production and consumption.
The food was donated by farmers; most of it was of produce they know they could not sell to supermarkets. †That’s somewhere between 20-40% of fruit and vegetable production.
The food, produce which didn’t make the grade on looks alone, would otherwise have been thrown away or ploughed back into fields.
As well as the delicious free curry, there were a couple of pigs present — to highlight the fact that between 2 and 500 times more carbon dioxide can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs instead of sending it for anaerobic digestion (the UK government’s preferred option).
However, under European laws, feeding food waste to pigs is banned. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by contrast, it is mandatory to feed some food waste to pigs. Waste that doesn’t contain meat can also be fed to pigs in the US.
Live cooking demo
There was also a live cooking tent demonstrating how to cook and eat the otherwise discarded bits of animals such as hearts, lungs and other offal. †In the UK, folks used to eat this meat. Now, usually, they don’t.
Following an EU ruling in 2008, odd-shaped and oversized produce can be sold in the UK. But it generally isn’t.
In all, UK households throw away around a quarter of the food they buy.
The event, which was organized by a coalition of groups was the idea of Tristram Stuart, who published ‘Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal’ in 2009.
“There is nothing wrong with the fruit and vegetables we’re throwing away. We want to see whole animals are eaten from nose to tail,” he said.
London mayor, Boris Johnson, served up the first portion of free curry. He is urging businesses to sign a “Food Waste Pyramid” pledge to reduce the mountains of food needlessly thrown away. This asks businesses to avoid buying surplus food, redistribute any unwanted food to charities like FareShare and FoodCycle, and pass food unfit for human consumption to livestock.
“Throwing away mountains of perfectly edible food is crazy at a time when all Londoners are feeling the pinch,” Johnson said.
“I want to do all I can to help people to cut waste, save cash by doing so and improve our great city. This is why I am determined to cut the amount of food needlessly sent to landfill. I urge businesses and Londoners to get on board to reduce waste and help to save millions for the capital’s economy.”
“It is my vision to make London a zero waste city, which is why I am working closely with Londonís boroughs with the aim of creating the capitalís very first zero waste ward, to show the rest of the city how it can be done.Ē
US households, retailers and food services waste approximately 40 million tons of food each year. This would be more than enough to satisfy the hunger of the nearly one billion malnourished people in the world.
If we planted trees on land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.
Video by LondonPerspectives
Picture by twenty_questions