Supermarkets imposing ridiculous and wholly unnecessary cosmetic standards are known to be one of the main causes of perfectly edible food going to waste at a farm level.
In a recent Telegraph article exploring the habits of those who seek out discounted food in supermarkets, and the financial benefits of doing so, there was a poll asking readers ‘Would you eat food after the ‘Best Before’ date had passed’. The results of which indicated that 16% of 12,000+ participants only ate food on or before this date, with 40% only eating food that was a few days past the date.
We are all conscious on some level of the amount of food we waste – edible or otherwise, within our own home, and aware that there is avoidable food waste generated by supermarkets and the wider, urban-based commercial, catering and hospitality sectors. But what about on the farms?
At retail level alone, it is estimated that over 400,000 tonnes of perfectly edible food go to waste each year. Meanwhile 4 million people in the UK are affected by food poverty and over 500,000 people are reliant on emergency food provision.
Food waste has a huge environmental impact: if we stopped wasting food in the UK it would be the CO2 equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. Because of this our first aim should be to minimize the amount of food being wasted as much as possible and progress is definitely being made here: from innovative packaging to more intelligent systems for predicting how certain items will sell.
This shoot was intended to capture what goes on after Sian and the volunteers she has helping her – often just Konstantina, have completed their tour of the New Spitalfields Market, collecting food from vendors that would otherwise go to waste.
FoodCycle’s activities are not limited to the volunteer hubs I have been documenting – the organisation also runs a cafe in Bromley by Bow, which I went to visit on a couple of occasions.
The cafe relies on gathering food that would otherwise be wasted from a variety of sources – including New Spitalfields Market, which is collected early on Saturday mornings.
Not being satisfied with the range of images I managed to capture during my first visit to Waitrose Islington, the management team kindly allowed me to come along a second time – to once again capture the handing over of ‘surplus’ food from Waitrose to the FoodCycle LSE volunteers.
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