WOMEN AT WORK Take a look at the photos in this feature … notice anything out of the ordinary about the food? No? We didn’t think you would. Yet this was a Sunday lunch with a difference at the Bread and Roses in Ebrington Street, Plymouth, because every single morsel had been destined for the waste bin until it was ‘saved’ by The Real Junk Food Project Plymouth. All of these delicious dishes were made using unsold supermarket produce or surplus fruit and veg that would otherwise have ended up in landfill despite being perfectly good and safe to eat. The Real Junk Food Project is a not-for-profit organisation set up in the UK in 2013 by a small group of people wanting to raise awareness about avoidable food waste and to create a momentum to eradicate it. Its motto is: feed bellies, not bins. Since the launch, pop-up cafés have sprung up across the country and around the world, with local projects “intercepting and diverting” food to make tasty meals which are sold on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis. In April 2016, the Plymouth project was launched by two like-minded women who met quite by chance via a mutual friend on Facebook. Jess Sneyd and Vicki Rowan now spend every Wednesday rescuing food from outlets and cooking meals to serve up at venues on both sides of the Tamar. Vicki, whose background is in catering, explained how it all started: “I was having a moan on Facebook, saying there was a shortage of these sorts of places and a friend said ‘well set one up then.’ I didn’t think that was possible but then a few days later my friend spotted a similar post by another friend of hers, who was Jess. She connected us and here we are today.” According to the organisation’s national website, around a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. In the relatively short time the Plymouth project has run, Jess, Vicki and the team of 20 or so volunteers have intercepted six tonnes of food and offered about 5,000 meals.
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The Plymouth Magazine March 2017
Below: Jess Sneyd and Vicki Rowan. Right: Jess with volunteer Jo
Real Junk Food P Plymouth bellie The local project collects much of the food from branches of Morrisons, Aldi, Co-Op and Spar. Other fresh produce comes from Cornwall-based Keveral Organic Community Growers and Good Earth Growers. Luxury fudge makers, Gingham Chicken, provide ‘off-cuts’ which are mixed with bread to create bread pudding. Jess said: “It’s through developing a relationship with people that we’re able to intercept what would otherwise be thrown out even though it’s perfectly good to eat. Some of the fresh fruit we get has to be stored for a couple of weeks to ripen up! One of the things we wish to highlight is that food that is past its best before or sell by date is often binned when it is still really good to eat. We comply to all food safety requirements and environmental health standards,” she added. Once the ingredients are collected, they head straight back to Jess’s kitchen to work some magic with the help of volunteer cooks. The meals are then frozen and defrosted ready for their pop-up cafés. The monthly café at the Bread and Roses social enterprise pub takes place 1pm-3pm on the first Sunday of the month. On the day we went for a ‘tasting’, around 60 meals were served. The menu included fish cakes and four different types of curry with rice and sides of sag aloo, pakora and home-made chutneys. There was also a choice of quiches and salads, while the desserts included chocolate and raspberry fudge pudding, chocolate ginger tart, bread pudding and fresh fruit. “What we cook is obviously entirely dependent on the food that we intercept,” said Jess. “We tend not to get much meat which is why a lot of the food is vegetarian or vegan. And a lot is also gluten-free.” By 2.30pm, almost all of the food had been snapped up, with customers leaving their money in the pots after they’d finished their meals. Jess – a nurse by profession and a mum of three –
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