Tristram Stuart on Feeding5k and AmpleHarvest.org
Tonight, one in six Americans does not know where their dinner is coming from. Yet, the average American throws away a pound of food per person, per day according to the US Department of Agriculture. That is well over 100 billion pounds of food per year– or enough to eliminate hunger in America. Globally, we have nearly one billion hungry, while simultaneously one-third of the world’s food goes to waste.
There are many problems with the current food system, but food waste is one of the easiest to change. Unfortunately, we are often constricted by a dominant, albeit flawed idea that the world needs to double food production just to keep up with population growth. However, the US, UK and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations. We must change this why of thinking, which is precisely what my team and I are working hard to do. Ultimately, we aspire to nourish people and reduce our food system’s impact on the environment by demonstrating positive solutions.
Our campaign, Feeding the 5000 aims to empower and inspire the global community to take action on food waste issues. We work with governments, businesses and civil society at the international level to catalyze change in social attitudes using innovative solutions to tackle food waste at the global level.
Feeding the 5000 is also the name of the campaign’s flagship event where we give away 5,000 delicious free lunches, solely with ingredients that otherwise would be wasted. Events have taken place in cities including London, Paris and Amsterdam, all in partnership with organizations working to promote solutions to food waste. Unfortunately, in each event location we found shocking levels of food waste. The good news is that we, as citizens, have the power to demand change from the food industry. Supermarkets are at the heart of the current food system in the West and serve as major drivers in disconnecting shoppers from the realities and consequences of their food choices. We need to put pressure on them to change their practices, whilst at the same time supporting local farmers, producers and shops who provide genuine alternatives to supermarket dominance. We need to reconnect people with their food.
To highlight and combat supermarket’s stronghold on our food system, we are also behind the campaign, known as the Gleaning Network UK. All across Europe, produce is being left unharvested in fields because it is the wrong shape or size. The network saves thousands of tons of fresh fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste on UK farms every year. We coordinate teams of volunteers, local farmers and food redistribution charities to salvage this fresh, nutritious food and direct it to those most in need.
The Gleaning Network not only saves thousands of pounds of fresh food from going to waste, but also brings the issue of food waste to the attention of the global media. Further pressuring governments and businesses to take action.
All this action is paying off. Recently, Tesco, one of the largest food retailers in the UK, became the first supermarket to release third party audited food waste data and ugly fruits and vegetables became the fastest growing sector of the UK’s fresh produce market. This saved 300,000 tons of food from otherwise going to waste. Gleaning is already taking place in France and the Netherlands and with organizations like, AmpleHarvest.org, in the US too!
With over 40 million American’s growing food in their backyards, AmpleHarvest.org provides a key link to educate, support and empower gardeners to share their excess with those in need, rather than letting it rot their gardens. The global food waste revolution needs local solutions, like AmpleHarvest.org, to succeed. I am proud to serve on the Advisory Board at AmpleHarvest.org, which highlights the amazing food systems change already underway in the US. AmpleHarvest.org is a leader in innovating positive solutions to the global food waste challenge– one small garden at a time.