Food Waste Feast at TedX Nairobi on 6th December!
Feedback will be creating a feast for 500 TEDx Nairobi delegates made from perfectly good food grown by Kenyan farmers but rejected by UK and EU supermarkets due to cosmetic imperfections or because of last minute order cancellations.
The Feedback team has uncovered shocking levels of food waste in Kenya caused by standard practices of European and UK retailers. Farmers are faced with overly restrictive cosmetic standards on the appearance of produce and have orders cancelled at the last minute and often after the produce has been flown in to Europe. Many small farmers end up bearing the financial cost of these practices, suffering significant hardship as a result.
As the retailers do not pay for any of the costs of this waste, they have little incentive to reduce it, and farmers are forced to cover the cost of the fertilizer, agricultural inputs and labour for large harvests they cannot sell. One Kenyan farmer called this ‘psychological torture’ for the farm workers.
In a country where 30 percent of children are undernourished, 10 million people suffer from food shortages and poor nutrition and 3 million people are dependent on food aid, it is impossible to justify wasting thousands of tonnes of produce due to these unfair trading practices. As demand for luxury horticultural exports is rapidly increasing, greater numbers of suppliers will be affected by these unfair trade practices not just in Kenya but across Africa.
The TEDx Nairobi event, in association with Feedback and The Rockefeller Foundation, aims to highlight the many solutions to this type of food waste. It will show that food waste is a tragedy that can be turned into a huge opportunity to increase on-farm incomes for rural communities and increase food availability where it is needed most whilst also reducing the environmental impact of food production. Developing secondary markets within Africa and increasing demand for quality produce that is currently rejected is one way of reducing food waste and at the same time increasing urban food security in Kenyan cities.
Shocking facts on Food Waste in Kenya
1. A basil farmer visited by Feedback reports 80% rejection due to cosmetic standards including stems being too thick.
2. An avocado exporter reports regular wastage of over a third of avocados due to minor skin blemishes.
3. Green beans often have to be cut to 9cm to fit in the packaging required by retailers, meaning that around a third of each bean is trimmed off and wasted – in the best case this material is fed to animals.
The Feedback team will source around 1,600 kilogrammes of unwanted fruit and vegetables for the meal and for donation to local charities.
The TEDx event has already inspired further action against food waste in Kenya; a coalition of grassroots organisations will be launching the first ever Disco Soup event in Kenya on December 7th. Disco Soups are free, collaborative events that celebrate the solutions to food waste. After saving delicious fresh food that otherwise would have been wasted, volunteers come together to cut, chop, peel, cook, eat and party to the sound of dance music by DJs and local bands. Full details here.