Sunday, August 4, 2013

OzHarvest Feeding the 5000 with rescued food to highlight food wastage

Food wastage is an issue close to my conscience and fridge – I hate throwing out groceries from the fridge or pantry. I feel guilty about the financial and environmental waste, as well as the thought that someone else out there really could have done with the extra food.

Feeding the 5000 by OzHarvest, Martin Place, Sydney
Australians throw out $7.8 billion of food every year, according to, which equates to every Australian household throwing out $1,038 worth of groceries each year. That’s four million tonnes per year of food which ends up in landfill, and yet there are those without enough food.

Pop-up milk crate garden
And not that food supply is an issue in Australia. Our country produces enough food to feed approximately 60 million people, according to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (including exports, of course) – yet two million people in Australia still rely on food relief every year.

OzHarvest volunteers
Just last month, OzHarvest – the not-for-profit organisation that rescues food and delivers it to people in need – hosted a major awareness event in Sydney CBD's Martin Place, partnering with the United Nations Environment Program (OzHarvest is the official Australian partner on the global Think.Eat.Save – Reduce your Foodprint campaign).

Maeve O'Meara (centre) with volunteers
Feeding the 5000 brought together a number of restaurant chefs and industry figures, hundreds of OzHarvest volunteers and rescued ingredients to raise awareness of food waste and consumer tips to help reduce wastage.

Chef Lauren Murdoch (left) at the vegetable curry station

Surplus vegetable curry with rescued rice, onion relish and yoghurt
A free hot lunch for 5000 people was created out of ingredients that would have otherwise ended up as landfill. The menu included a full-flavoured vegetable curry made of surplus vegetables from the Sydney Markets and rescued sauce from MARS Food, served with rescued rice, onion relish, yoghurt and day-old bread salvaged from Brasserie Bread.

Brasserie Bread and saved potato and ham hock soup station

Dessermakers, Heilala Vanilla and Brasserie Bread's rescued bread & butter pudding station

Lemonade by 42 Bannerman
There was also saved potato soup with smoked ham hock by Martin Boetz of the Cooks Co-Op and James Viles of Biota; rescued bread and butter pudding by Dessertmakers, Pepe Saya and Heilala Vanilla; onion relish by Three Blue Ducks, chapatti from the Sydney Sikh community; gazpacho by Hungry Mondays, yoghurt by Kristen at the Full Circle and a fantastically refreshing home-style spiced lemonade by Salvatore Mammoti from 42 Bannerman Trattoria e Bar.

OzHarvest founder and CEO Ronni Kahn (left) and OzHarvest patron Thérèse Rein
(Photo by Giles Park, courtesy of Liquid Ideas)
Founder and CEO of OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn, said the aim behind the Feeding the 5000 event globally is to help raise awareness about the disturbing amount of food wasted around the world and how individuals, producers, supermarkets and governments can do a lot more to reduce food waste in our country.

"Food waste is a huge challenge that needs to be addressed locally and be embraced within our own homes first, so that we can affect incremental change globally. Our challenge is to create a sustainable food culture that can be shared by all. It’s a paradox that we produce enough food to feed all seven billion of us, yet so many in this world go hungry," Kahn said.

"The aim of this event is to educate all people – producers, consumers and businesses alike. We should not buy into the fact that fruit and veg needs to be cosmetically beautiful before we’ll buy it, because for every bendy or blemished carrot thrown out – we throw away embedded water, energy and fuel,” she said.

Billy Kwong's Kylie Kwong dishing out the vegetable curry
(Photo by Giles Park, courtesy of Liquid Ideas)
Nick Nuttall, UNEP spokesperson, added: “The way humanity manages or mismanages its food supply will in many ways define the 21st century – currently we know that we are not doing a great job with at least one-third of all food produced lost or wasted.”

"All of us are connected to food and every one of us can make a difference in the lives of those in need and the health of our planet,” he said.

In attendance at the Feeding the 500 event were OzHarvest patron and current First Lady (or Mrs Kevin Rudd) Thérèse Rein; Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore and United Nations representative Julia Dean.

OzHarvest founder and CEO Ronni Kahn speaking on the panel
There was also a panel discussion on Food Waste, Food Sustainability & Food Security featuring OzHarvest’s Ronni Kahn; Joost Bakker, sustainable architect of Greenhouse by Joost fame; Anabella Sao, a local grower; Indira Naidoo, author, blogger and former TV personality; Professor Veena Sahajwalla of the University of New South Wales; and Stephen Beaman, Director of Waste and Resource Recovery, NSW Environment Protection Authority.

Efendy's Somer Sivrioglu (right) cooking at the stove(Photo by Giles Park, courtesy of Liquid Ideas)
Chefs throwing in a helping hand included Kylie Kwong of Billy Kwong; Martin Boetz of The Cook’s Co-op (and formerly Longrain); James Viles of Biota Dining; Lauren Murdoch of Three Weeds; Somer Sivrioglu of Efendy; Grant LaBrooy of Three Blue Ducks; and Omar Ivan Andrade, Ben Sampson and Hendrik Vogelzang of Hungry Mondays.

The event was also supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes). Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Food wastage is also close to my heart thanks to a Chinese upbringing! It would be great to get people thinking more resourcefully when it comes to buying and cooking food, and don't get me started on the blind adherence to use by dates! lol

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Like Helen said, coming from a chinese family there's no such thing as wastage in my house hold. I had to eat every grain of rice in my bowl.

thesuzchef said...

What a great initiative. I am totally guilty of wasting food - lots from my fridge go to the bin every week... I really must get better at utilising every thing there is and cutting back on my waste!

Shanshan Lam said...

like everyone else above, food wastage is such a bad habbit. My parents were extremely strict when it came to this topic. I would even get punished if i didn't finish everything in my bowl.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Nice post Tina! I think people would be horrified to learn how much food goes to waste. It's great to highlight it!

Amy zhong said...

this is such an awesome concept, things like these should happen more often!

Olivia said...

Being of Chinese descent, I too hate wasting food. I didn't know that on average, so much food could be thrown away :(

happyeverafterbride said...

I don't waste food if I can help it,was raised not to too but my MIL is stocked for another world war it would seem and I can't help the food wastage, otherwise, it just goes to my hips, and by me finishing the plate, it encourages her to buy and cook more. I am pained by it all and these events just reaffirms my fears that we are wasting all this goodness.

Tina said...

Hi Helen - I'm so guilty of the regular fridge clean-out of wasted food; this prompted me to really stop and think more.

Hi Tina - I'm usually pretty good at cleaning up my plates and bowls. The fridge seems to be my problem!

Hi thesuzchef - I am very conscious of wastage these days, but need to find ways to minimise it. Eating out less, perhaps? ;)

Hi Lorraine - Yes, there are some scary numbers in food wastage...

Hi Amy - Absolutely. It's great to see OzHarvest getting through to consumers now :)

Hi Olivia - I know! So many resources wasted!

Hi happyeverafterbride - There's got to be a happy medium somewhere. I've completely embraced leftover meals this year :)

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