With an overall focus on the United Nations Food Systems Summit Action Track 2 - Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns, the Chefs' Manifesto London Action Hub Spring Gathering followed a 'menu of 5 courses'. The second course aimed to focus on the issue of food waste, and how a major shift is needed to reduce loss of food globally.
The founder of Toast Ale, and internationally renowned speaker, author, campaigner and expert on social / environmental impacts of food, Tristram Stuart provided more than adequate food for thought! Recognising the progress that has occurred in the UK alone to reduce food waste by 1/3 since 2007, Tristram hit home immediately stating that there is still 2/3 to go until we can truly celebrate success. Importantly though, it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate solutions as they present themselves along the journey to zero food loss and waste, whilst also grieving the predicament we are in.
Every society uses food to build friendship and companionship. Con is the latin word for with; pan the latin word for bread. Companionship means sharing bread, feasting, coming together with someone. Whichever way you look at the word, the meaning of companionship is powerful.
Therefore, if we leave 1 billion people out of the feast, out of the sharing, out of the plenty, it is bad companionship. When we waste 1/3 of the world's feast, 1/3 of the world's plenty, 1/3 of the world's harvest, that is bad companionship.
Pondering that statement alone is enough to inspire change, inspire behavioural shifts, and create new advocates for solutions to stop food waste. However, Tristram added more wisdom by stating that food waste is a symptom of the structure of food systems. Until significants shifts are made amongst corporate companies striving for profit over planetary health, with no regulatory systems in place to protect the planet, and with a food system that exceeds planetary boundaries, the result is and will continue to be catastrophic. Adding more complexity is the need for increased food production in many countries where access and affordability is limited, and reduced food production in others.
Both food waste reduction and a re-evaluation of food production are needed, as well as significant shifts in diets globally.
Visit here for more on the Global Food Waste Scandal
During Covid-19 lockdowns, a growing trend emerged as food waste reduced significantly. People were cooking at home more, planning ahead, and looking in to their food stores to plan meals around existing purchases, rather than throwing away and starting over. During COVID lockdowns, OLIO redistributed food from restaurants, as the hospitality industry ground to a halt with fresh food left to spoil. Many people began experimenting with growing their own food. When people grow their own food, there is an emotional investment, which begins to tackle to elements of food waste: an emotional/social component as well as environmental (growing food at home helps people through touching soil and communing with nature, whilst also helping the planet).
OLIO also prevents food waste by building awareness at multiple levels of the food system - by educating retailers to make positive changes on purchasing, packaging and messaging, whilst also educating individuals on food safety and food quality. Through individuals making conscious choices, they can make a difference, as well as retailers, by making positive changes.
Perfectly paired with reducing global food waste and sharing food to reduce waste, Eco-Chef Tom joined the conversation to show how easy it is to create delicious food, with zero-food waste, using root to fruit cooking techniques. Chef Tom is a food educator, award-winning chef, writer and climate change activist. Taking participants on a journey to the colourful local market, then back to his kitchen as he curated delicious chimichurri, Chef Tom shared his top tips for using up all the ingredients. From bar snacks made from leftover kale and leek during his cooking presentation, Chef Tom shared quick, affordable ways to add missing nutrients to our diets, by consuming foods such as carrot tops and celery leaves.
To watch the full first course, click below!