A former chef has spent the last few years on a mission to fight global food waste, starting with a small cafe in Britain’s industrial north. After his idea to serve up dishes using food which would have ended up in landfill was a success, the chef has now begun introducing his ideas to other countries.
Chef Creates Cafe Project To Beat Food Waste
“From day one I set out to feed the world and I intend to do that,” said Adam Smith ambitiously, as he charted the growth of his ethical empire — the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP).
His project started from humble beginnings in a Leeds community centre, and has since gone on to open another 120 affiliated cafes in countries worldwide, including Australia, France, South Korea, the US and, most recently, Nigeria.
“People are beginning to realise we are a serious organisation,” said Smith, just after returning from an event designed to raise awareness of food waste by feeding a group of MP’s with food that had been saved from being thrown away. The idea was to show people with influence how his concept works and to bring them on board.
He operates the cafes by collecting out of date food from shops and restaurants, usually because it has gone past it’s used by date which makes it unsellable under trading rules. He uses this food to create perfectly edible meals for people in the area. Since the project began in December 2013, almost 200 tonnes of food has been “intercepted”, Smith said.
Food waste is growing problem all over the world, with around 1.3 billion tonnes – a third of the food produced for human consumption – gets lost or is wasted according to figures released by the United Nations. Smith’s cafes get around the food regulations by using a system where customers pay as much as they feel the meal was worth, as selling used food in a normal would be breaking the rules.
To ensure the food is safe and good to eat, the team are selective over what they take. “We make our own judgement, by tasting and smelling, as to whether food is fit for consumption.” He added that while the primary focus is on preventing food waste instead of feeding poor people, this has been an added benefit of the project.
Helped by around 90 volunteers, Shena Cooper runs Elsie’s cafe in Northampton, as part of the RJFP network. “We want to create a mixed society within the cafe,” she said. “Some people come in for coffee and cake and give a few pounds. But there are people who cannot give anything.”
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