Huge Food Waste “Free Lunch” Will Feed The 5000


Written by Sami Grover

Just the other day we heard that UK shoppers throw out 10% of their weekly shop uneaten, but that’s just the tip of a very smelly, unpleasant and destructive iceberg (lettuce?).

As food waste campaigner Tristram Stuart has shown us before, food waste occurs at every step of the supply chain. From farmers to distributors to processors/packers to stores to the end consumer, there are countless points at which unused food gets discarded, often for rather absurd reasons. Some studies have even shown that up to half of all food worldwide goes uneaten.

But as we environmentalists are finally beginning to learn, throwing data at people doesn’t seem to change much. So how can we engage people in the issue of food waste, get them to understand the enormity of the problem, and excite them about the opportunity to do things smarter? The answer is blindingly obvious.

Feed them.

Back in 2009 Bonnie attended a huge feast called Feeding the 5000 in Trafalgar square. As the name suggests, the idea was to create a huge free lunch made from food that would otherwise be discarded. Cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables; funny shaped pieces of toast, or “wrong sized” produce were all turned into delicious, free treats to help highlight the problem of food waste.

Now it’s happening again this Friday. And organizers hope it will break the record for the largest “free lunch” ever in the UK:

In just two hours, charities, volunteers, and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, will serve a free lunch to 5000 members of the public. The menu will include curry made from ‘mis-shapen’ and wonky vegetables, and a range of cooked dishes prepared live by well known chefs, including Thomasina Miers, Valentine Warner and Arthur Potts Dawson.

The public will be invited to take part in the ‘surplus apple’ pressing and to drink the free juice – with the chance to feed the apple remnants to live pigs in Trafalgar Square, as well as helping to sort through wonky vegetables for delivery to charities. Speakers at the event include the Bishop of London and Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food.

The event is run by the Feeding the 5000 team, in partnership with FareShare, FoodCycle, Love Food Hate Waste, Friends of the Earth and supported by the Mayor of London. And it’s organized by Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. Let’s just hope nobody turns up and forces them to pour bleach on perfectly good produce

This post was originally published by Treehugger.


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Photo from ndrwfgg via flickr


iii q.
g d c7 years ago

Wow - that's really great!!! More cities should follow in their footsteps!

Arild Warud


Rafael Gomez
Rafael Gomez7 years ago

every 30 seconds a person dies of starvation :(

David N.
David N7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 7 years ago

Tomatoes are one of the most nutritious foods. It also helps prevent cancer.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams7 years ago

Sometimes it is possible to persuade supermarkets to donate to soup kitchens, food they can't sell for the soup kitchens to use to feed those who can't afford to buy their own food.

Myriam G.
Myriam G7 years ago

I remember how my dear grand-father, a then-retired farmer, laughed when he heard that vegetable dealers wouldn't buy crooked carrots and the like, because they were, as you put it, cosmetically challenged. ''But, it tastes just the same!'' he would say, between two fits of laughters. I also remember how happy I was when we would go to the garden together, pull up carrots and find one with an interesting shape, one that had legs, or a side arm, or one that twisted around. He would say: ''Mémé va la faire cuire pour toi au souper'' (Granny is going to cook that one for you, tonight) And I would be so happy to recognize my twisted carrot in my plate, that night!

''Cosmetically challenge'' veggies must be the sorriest reason to throw food away. When will we ever learn? I hope my old Pépé and Mémé, now reunited in the sky, don't look at the world too often.

Sahar Walid
Sahar Walid7 years ago

There are millions of people dying of hunger and on the other side there are millions discarding fruit/vegetables because they are not of the perfect shape or size. No words to comment on this awful shameful situation.
All bakeries and restaurants/food chains should give out their left overs to needy people. A good deed done will always be returned, mostly in a better bigger way.

Edward M.
Edward M7 years ago

The tomatoes that are displayed here would never be sold in British supermarkets as being of an unacceptable size and shape.
However, I remember eating just this class and shape of tomato when I was in North Africa many years ago and I have rarely tasted anything as sweet.
Perhaps the smaller fresh produce shops and outlets could find a niche market by selling such "oddities" of nature to the general public and so slowly wean them off the bland, cloned excuse for fruit and vegetables now offered to us by these same supermarkets, producing such colossal waste just to get this conformity in what we eat.

Jo Asprec
Jo Asprec7 years ago

Feeding the 5000 is a very good move.