The Real Junk Food Project

Food activists came up with the best way to denounce food waste; not wasting it! Adam Smith was working as a professional chef in the UK for over ten years, but it was only after he visited Australia that he witnessed first-hand the scale of food wasted in the agricultural sector and catering industry. The UK was no better; according to an investigation by the Evening Standard, supermarkets are throwing away £230m of edible food. For a professional whose work is to feed bellies and not bins, the situation clearly demanded a imaginative solution.

When returning to the UK, Adam and his partner Johanna decided to set up The Real Junk Food Project, cooking restaurant quality meals from food a supermarket or a household would throw away. “I see kids coming into my cafe that can’t afford fruit and vegetables,” Adam says. “And yet we’re allowed to throw away tons of edible food every week. It makes me really really angry”. Members of the project pick up food past its expiration date from supermarkets and skips. They use their own judgement about whether it is fit for human consumption using their eyes, smell and taste. A typical Real Junk Food Cafe might serve lasagne, soups, quiches, salads and cakes. Customers are charged according to what they can afford on a “pay what you feel” basis.

Watch this video to get a better idea of what is the real Junk Food Project.

Another initiative of the project’s founders is called Fuel For School; the work of a group of food activists is delivering surplus bread, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from supermarkets to schools, where it is used to feed hungry schoolchildren. The food, which may otherwise have found its way to landfill, is used to feed 12,000 children a week.

Smith’s goal was developing a network of similar cafes with a warehouse attached to make sure edible food gets into the hands of the hungry, rather than rotting at the bottom of a bin. Last September, the Real Junk Food Project announced the opening of UK’s first food waste supermarket called “the warehouse”, where customers are invited to shop for food thrown out by supermarkets and other businesses. The food is also priced on a “pay as you feel” basis and has already helped desperate families struggling to feed their children, according to The Independent’s report. So far, The Real Junk Food Project has managed to feed 90,000 meals to over 60,000 people, while saving more than 107,000 tons of food from waste.

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