WATCHING YOUR WASTE If food wasn’t wasted, there would be enough for everyone. That’s the message from waste not want not cafés. Kath Hudson reports
ifteen million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK. On average, consumers waste about one third of the food they buy, which equates to about £30 a week, either because it goes beyond sell by dates, they don’t know what to do with it, or don’t have time to cook. Avoidable household food waste in the UK is associated with 17m tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. The food industry’s obsession with sell by dates and the supermarkets' insistence on perfectly formed vegetables exacerbates the problem, and has sparked a burgeoning trend for waste not, want not cafés. They are popping up all over the UK and the US and projects are afoot in South Africa, France and South America. These cafés operate on the principle of transforming intercepted food – which would otherwise
be thrown away by supermarkets and wholesalers – into tasty dishes. Menus change daily, using whatever food is available, so if there’s no sugar for coffee, there’s no sugar for coffee. Customers pay according to what they feel the meal is worth and occasionally offer services instead. The operators agree that they want to be out of business within 15 years, hoping that by then policy changes will have occurred which will make them redundant. The French government has already seen sense and in May announced a law to crack down on food waste to avoid 7.1m tonnes of wasted food a year, at a cost of €20bn. All French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities, or for animal feed. The measures are part of a wider drive to halve the amount of food waste in France by 2025.
This summer, Skipchen took the café on tour with its food rescue ambulance
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