Category: Guest Post

Come Dine Sustainably

4th Jan 19 by Isobella, Feedback volunteer

Keen advocate for ending food waste, Isobella arranged an insightful evening with delicious food made from surplus and salvaged ingredients.

One evening, seven friends gathered in a student flat in growing anticipation of what on earth they would be concocting for their supper. All they knew was that it was a ‘sustainable’ evening of food innovation.

Waste not

The array of potential ingredients were laid out, including excess fruit and veg salvaged from a local greengrocers (by Feedback’s Gleaning Network coordinator Heather), scraps from the fridge and a few dry, cupboard items. Items of interest included pumpkin, plantain & pomegranate…and some suspicious looking surplus wine.

Teams of 2 were formed for starter, main and dessert and the eager cooks competed for ingredients as they plotted what to make. This was a perfect number for us, as it worked in the space and quantities we had. The criteria was to make something delicious, producing as little waste as possible, and minimise food miles. In the end, no one bought any extra ingredients – all the courses were formed from the original stocks, which was amazing!

Let’s get cooking

It was such a fun atmosphere whilst everyone was cooking and crafting their dishes, especially in utilising all components of an item. The starter team were the most creative with presentation, utilising the pineapple as a vessel for their pomegranate chutney and salsa, accompanied by plantain fried in Toast beer – a wonderful product which we all loved, which uses surplus bread to produce a delicious brew.The main course won on taste, with curried cauliflower, veggie fritters and a red lentil dahl, followed by pumpkin pie with banana and beetroot swirl ice cream for dessert – a beautiful harmony of fruit and veg! We created sub-categories under ‘food’ and ‘sustainability’ including taste, texture, quantity of waste and environmental impact to name a few for the recipients to vote on after each course.

More than just eating

Throughout the evening we played games including ‘guess who – the food waste version’, in which we each had a food item stuck to our heads which others had describe what they would do if they had surplus amounts of that item to help them guess. Discussions were also prompted by real life scenarios in which decisions about minimising food waste were chewed over. It was really great to be able to have intentional conversation surrounding food and how we can buy, cook and eat more consciously and sustainably, after we had proven to ourselves how much could be done when you have imagination and intention.

All in all, everyone was really impressed and proud of how inventive they had been, and the joy that it is to share wholesome, home-made food with friends. I firmly believe that seeds were planted that evening, and that each person left feeling inspired, well-nourished and encouraged to cook from scratch and from scraps and better understand the journey their food has taken before it gets to the plate.

I hope this acts as an encouragement for others to host their own, with friends or strangers – you can be the catalyst!

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You Have to See it to Believe it

12th Jan 16 by fb_admin

rob greenfieldWe are happy to present the following guest post by Rob Greenfield, America’s food waste hero and Author of the recent book – Dude Making a Difference.


Rob will be in London presenting his TEDx talk, The Food Waste Fiasco, at the O2 on 16/1 and again at the Tiny Leaf on 17/1.

You may have already heard a few appalling facts about food waste but just in case you haven’t, here are a few tidbits of information to catch you up on the issue:

  1. We throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food per year in America. That’s more than the budgets for America’s national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran’s health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined.
  2. About 50 million of our 317 million Americans are food insecure yet we produce enough food to feed over 500 million Americans.
  3. To create just the amount of food that ends up in the landfills we waste enough water to meet the domestic water needs of every American citizen.

Even with these mind-blowing statistics you probably still need to see it to believe it. That is where I come in.

This weekend I arrived in New York City from my second bike ride across America living on food from grocery store dumpsters. On my first ride dumpster diving across America, about 70% of my diet came from dumpsters, totaling up to about 280 pounds of food over 4,700 miles of cycling.

This is what a typical dumpster score looked like:

dumpster score
This time around, halfway across the country, I vowed to eat exclusively out of grocery store dumpsters until I reached New York City. For the 1,000 miles and seven weeks of riding from Madison, Wisconsin to New York City you could have spotted me in any of 300 or so dumpsters across America. I admit I slipped up on my vow a few times. Once when a brownie was set down in front of me in Baltimore, another time over some freshly popped popcorn, and a few times I picked a fresh tomato or leafy green out of a garden. Plus I used oil and some herbs for cooking when visiting friends in their homes. Other than that I ate like a dumpster king and gained five pounds even with all of the time spent on my bike.

Here’s what a guy who eats straight from the dumpster looks like:

dumpster eater
I’m not just dining from the dumpster to meet my needs though. I’m doing this to inspire America to stop throwing away food. My interactions with whomever I crossed paths with helped them to see the food waste fiasco firsthand but still I said I would help YOU see it to believe it.

That is where photos from my public demonstrations come into play. In eight cities along the tour I went out dumpster diving, usually just for one night, and set up my find in a public park the next day. Many people were shocked by what I showed them and even more were angry, not at me, but at the waste of our society when millions of Americans are hungry.

I had just a few days at most in each city to pull these fiascos together. Here is what my friend Dane and I managed to scrounge up in Madison, Wisconsin in two days:

dumpster madison
I found a volunteer via social media with a vehicle to help in each city since I couldn’t carry all of the food on my bicycle. This was is what we gathered in Chicago, Illinois:

dumpter chicago
None of the volunteers even had dumpster diving experience and I was completely new to the dumpster scene in each city. In Detroit, Michigan we started diving the morning of the event and the car was filled with this in 2 hours:

dumpster detroit
In Cleveland, Ohio we spent seven hours at the dumpsters the night before the event and brought this food to Cleveland Public Square. It was 90 degrees (32 degrees celcius) that day so much of the food we found in the dumpsters was spoiled. This is just the good stuff that we pulled out:

dumpster clevland
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania we had two vehicles and we hit about ten dumpsters between the two teams. This is what we took home in four hours.

dumpster PA
Two days later I rolled up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 9:00 PM, started diving an hour later, and was sound asleep with this score by 1:00 AM.

dumpster philli


And finally I rolled into New York City where I was greeted by the people behind In one night of walking around the streets of Manhattan we scrounged together this fiasco.

dumpster nyc

The food was still very high quality stuff but I never intended to even give it away. I just wanted to show people what we are wasting. But then people started to take the food and that made the mission all the better. Guys like David were so happy to eat and to share it with their friends:

dumpster w david
Between all of the demonstrations that I hosted we ended up giving away over $10,000 worth of food and fed well over 500 people. To me that is proof of how good the food is that we are throwing away.

I’ve learned that I can roll up in nearly any city across America and collect enough food to feed 100’s of people in a matter of one night. The only thing that limited me was the size of the vehicle I had to transport it. My experience shows me that grocery store dumpsters are being filled to the brim with perfectly good food every day in nearly every city across America, all while children at school are too hungry to concentrate on their studies.

My intentions with these photos are to help you to get an idea of the scale of this issue. Even still these are just photos. Seeing it in person is a whole different story. So I encourage you to go to your grocery store and do something a little different from your normal routine. I want you to walk around to the back of the store, find their dumpster, and take a look inside. You don’t have to take any of the food home with you. You don’t have to get in the dumpster either. Just take a peak and see this problem for yourself. The dumpster may be locked or it may have just been emptied so check out a few places if needed. The first time you see a dumpster full of food your life could be changed forever. If you feel inclined to be a part of the solution I encourage you to photograph or video the wasted food you find and spread it on social media using #DonateNotDump. Tweet it at the store and let them know that we are not going to stand for their waste anymore.

With that action in mind you should be versed in this a little bit more before you hit the dumpsters. Our message to the grocery stores is that we want them to stop dumping their excess food and start donating it to non-profits so it can be distributed to people in need. Through my hands on experience and research I have found that it is a win-win situation for grocery stores to do this. They are protected from lawsuits by the Good Samaritan Food Act, they get tax write offs, they spend less on dumpster fees, and most importantly they are doing what is right for their community when they donate their excess food! The most common excuse for not donating is that they fear liability but they are protected and according to a University of Arkansas study not a single lawsuit has ever been made against a grocery store that has donated food to a food rescue program.

Thousands of food rescue programs, such as City Harvest, Feeding America, and The Food Recovery Network are already feeding people across America and thousands of stores are already donating to these non-profits and food banks. However it is a very small fraction of what could be done. We need more stores donating more often and we need them to compost what they can’t donate rather than sending it off to the landfill.

You don’t even have to peak into their dumpsters if you don’t want to. Share this article with supermarkets or simply talk to the manager while you are at the store and let them know that it is important to you, their customers. Humans with hearts run these stores and we can get them to change for the better! It’s up to us to hold them accountable to treat the environment and our hungry Americans with the respect they deserve.

I believe that we are at a tipping point for ending food waste and with citizen action we can solve this. The excitement inside me tells me that my generation will drastically reduce food waste in our time.

Start by telling your grocery store to #DonateNotDump!

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Hurray for Stepney City Farm pigs doing their bit for the climate

11th Dec 15 by fb_admin
Munching on yummy pig porridge of brewers spent grain and okara mixed with whey.
Munching on yummy pig porridge of brewers’ spent grains and okara mixed with whey.

Karen Luyckx from The Pig Idea takes us on a pig feeding tour at Stepney City Farm.

Yesterday I turned up for my first stint of open volunteering at Stepney City Farm. How wonderful to be doing health checks of soft happy bunnies and cheeky ferrets. But the best bit was to witness the food waste pyramid in full action.

Stepney farm gets regular donations of surplus fruit and veg from market traders which are used for topping up animal feed. In this case however the bananas they had been given were still perfect to eat for humans too. So ten bananas were happily munched during the volunteer break, and another ten were peeled and given to Stepney’s two pigs together with some apples. One of them got so excited by the sight of those bananas that she knocked over one of the volunteers in her eagerness to get to them. (Don’t worry, aside from muddy wellies and jeans, no harm was done)

These pigs are hard at work doing their bit to fight climate change.
These pigs are hard at work doing their bit to fight climate change.

We also prepared yummy pig porridge: brewers’ spent grains and okara (by-product from tofu-making) mixed with whey (by-product from cheese-making). What a joy to watch them eating with an eagerness and enthusiasm like only pigs can do. But more importantly, these lovely Stepney City Farm pigs are doing their bit for the climate because they don’t eat virgin crops like rainforest soya or barley. And you don’t need to take our word for it: just check out an important study by Cambridge University published this week.

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Juicy Details from Inside the London Climate March

5th Dec 15 by fb_admin

We are pleased to present this guest post from Charlotte Haworth, a vounteer at the London Climate March on 29 November 2015. The article first appeared in Abundance Garden.

Peoples march1

On the evening of last week’s Conference of the Parties: international climate change conference (COP21) (1), people joined together from all over the world to demonstrate what we can do to fight climate change.

I’m not afraid of anything that’s blocking me/ I’m not afraid of human force”(2)
Even in Paris, where public demonstrations were banned in the days preceding the conference under the ambiguous reason of “security concerns”, more than 10,000 activists managed to make a human chain in a peaceful manifestation (3). However, London’s March was even more demonstrative of our potential to create positive change; as we were not demanding anything from anybody, simply showing what we have got.




This was the overwhelming sentiment I got from last month’s People’s March – by the people, for the people. Government “leaders” may have been getting high on the sound of their own voices in Paris, but one thing the March clearly demonstrated was the huge variety of initiatives aiding the process of positive societal change, all of which are already functioning in the UK and beyond.


Free (no price) and Free (liberated)

My role at the March was very particular: as an “exotic waste warrior”, I was showing what I got!

What did I have? Apples! Around 2500 of them,  rejected by supermarkets due to “cosmetic standards”, but thanks to the Gleaning Network (4) and This Is Rubbish(5), the apples were intercepted and gifted as sustenance to anyone who came within a hundred feet of us.

peoples march2

2,500 apples seemed quite overwhelming at first, but in fact they all went amazingly quickly. We began handing out the apples around 11.30am and by the time the March actually began moving around 1.30pm we had only a couple of handfuls left. Such speed of redistribution shows that redirecting abundance can be very simple and easy; especially if we bring the surplus food to a place where there are many hungry people already gathering.

If you eat, you’re in

One key reason to be handing out apples on a march focused on climate change (other than their clear high value in both taste and symbology) is to highlight the impac food waste has on the environment. We currently throw away 30 – 50% of our food on a global scale  before it gets to a consumer (6). If food waste were a country that would equate to it being the third largest producer of carbon emissions in the world, after only the USA and China (7).

If you are not a citizen of the USA or China you may think there is not much you can do about the first two, though it may be worthwhile considering where you buy your products from. There is a lot you can directly do about food waste and climate change, if you ever indulge in the pasttime of eating.

You do? Then read on, as the solutions are delicious!


Some tasty ideas

For starters we have harvesting rescuers The Gleaning Network (4) who intercept fruit and vegetables from the fields which would otherwise have gone to waste, and Abundance (8), who map wild fruit trees for DIY harvesting. Then there is the national network Fareshare (9) who redistribute supermarket surplus to charities and community groups, and more local versions of this such as Community Food Enterprises (10) in London and the Food Waste Collective (11) in Brighton.

This is Rubbish uses intercepted supermarket fruit and vegetables in tantalising and creative ways to entice and inspire you to do more about saving food.

These groups are doing fantastic work to bring the surplus abundance which already exists to people who are hungry. Yet all are working on the idea that, once the root of food waste is addresd, ideally they would no longer need to exist.

We can all help with this simply by changing our shopping habits. One very easy step is to only buy food produced in your country of residence; as it has had to travel a lot less farther and thus is less likely to produce carbon emissions or for unnecessary amounts to be thrown away.

Another is to check out This is Rubbish’s new campaign Stop the Rot (12), which is aiming to reduce food waste throughout the UK supply chain.

Enough to whet your appetite? You don’t have to stop here… Food is an issue which affects us all, and eating can always feel good. How do you relate to your food? How can you use this to create a healthier, more energy efficient food system?

The only limit here is your imagination…


1. Cop21, 2015. ‘COP21’.
2. Dubioza Kolektiv, 2006. ‘Justce’. Lyrics by Dubioza kolektiv.
3. Ecowatch, 2015. ‘10,000 form human chain in Paris demanding that world leaders keep fossil fuels in the ground’. Ecowatch, 29/11/15.
4. Feedback Global, 2015. The Gleaning Network’.
5. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘About TiR’.
6. Institute of Mechanical Engineers, 2013. ‘Waste Not Want Not’. Imeche: London. Available as a PDF here:
7. European Commission JOint Research Centre, 2015. CO2 time series 1990-2013 per capita for world countries.
8. Abundance, 2015. ‘About Us’.
9. Fareshare, 2015. ‘About Us’.
10. CFE, 2015. ‘About Us’.
11. HASL, 2015. ‘Food Waste’.
12. This is Rubbish, 2015. ‘Stop the Rot’.

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Why are we (still) wasting food?

4th Dec 15 by fb_admin

We are happy to present the following guest post by Marc Zornes, Founder of Winnow Solutions. The Winnow System is a smart meter that helps chefs cut their food waste in half.

Food waste is a massive global problem and it has received more and more attention during recent years. The figures are shattering. UNFAO estimates that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. This amounts to roughly 1.3 billion tons of food. The retail equivalent of this is $1 trillion worth of food each year, which is 1% of the global output. These numbers indicate that there is an urgent need for action on food waste and the problem is huge.

But there is another way to look at it. Start thinking about food waste as an opportunity rather than as a problem. Turn these numbers around and see it as a $1 trillion continuously growing market rather than a $1 trillion problem.

Some entrepreneurs have already understood the huge opportunity lying in food we throw away. During the past years new businesses started to storm the food waste scene. Turning food waste into treasure is not easy but they are successfully making enterprises out of converting it to compost, animal feed, biogas, renewable energy or organic fertilizers. Their activity does not only increase food security, but is also beneficial for the environment and even better for their bottom line. As part of the first ever London Food Tech Week in October, TEDxHackney gathered a range of entrepreneurs who shared their stories and inspired action to change the future of food. As founder of Winnow, I was among the speakers to share the story of my involvement in the world of food tech, food waste and how we came up with the business idea of founding Winnow to help the hospitality sector cut food waste in half by using technology.

We believe that there are incredible challenges and opportunities lying in food waste. For an entrepreneur approaching a $1 trillion market, food waste is like a modern day gold rush.

Food is lost in every part of the food chain all around the world. In developing countries food gets wasted due to inefficient processing, inadequate storage and lack of suitable infrastructure. In the developed world perfectly good food gets dumped because it does not meet standards of perfect shape and consumers are encouraged to buy more food than they need, failing to plan their food purchases.

We encourage entrepreneurs who care about food to find a spot in the supply chain that they are passionate about and build something to help solve the food waste issue. There are tons of opportunities for new businesses to spring up along the food waste system. It takes investment and time but the potential economic, environmental and social benefits are huge. This is not just a trend, it is a growing movement. Join it!

About Winnow

The Winnow System is a smart meter that helps chefs cut their food waste in half, dramatically improving their profitability.

Kitchens can waste as much on food waste as they make in net profits. Tackling food waste with Winnow can help you increase food gross margins by 2-6 percentage points. To date Winnow has saved its customers over £2 m by reducing the amount of their food waste.


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