Report by Haley Pearson. Photography by Richard Brown.
An astonishing amount of edible, delicious food is binned every day in this country. We have lost the ability, as animals, to use sight or smell to assess the goodness of our food, and instead rely on the sterile “best-buy” numbers printed on the packaging of the foods we buy. In truth, the numbers are there to protect manufacturers and supermarkets from accusations of selling less than perfect foods. Plenty of people will bin a full pot of yoghurt on the best buy date, regardless of it’s smell or colour, or refuse an apple because of a small bruise.
There are slow steps being taken to mitigate this mindless waste, including a plan to remove “best-before” dates from milk (it’s pretty plain, smell-wise, when milk has gone off!) and in 2008 the EU lifted restrictions on selling perfectly wholesome vegetables and fruit considered “misshapen.” But in the meantime, we have FoodCycle. The premise behind FoodCycle is pretty simple. Volunteers and chefs get together to source, re-process and beautify the excess food unfairly ejected from supermarket shelves and serve it to those at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Everyone has heard of “skipped” food, or “freegans” nowadays, but the heart of the matter is that this food really is delicious and edible, and the effort and energy that has gone into to growing and transporting it demands that it not be wasted. And what better way to recover it than to use it in support of those less fortunate?
On Monday night Bristol Pound joined forces with FoodCycle Bristol to raise money for the Community Kitchen in Easton. We arrived in time to assist with laying tables, hanging art, lighting candles and slathering the tables with £B materials. Over a hundred students were paying £6 for the chance to eat reclaimed food prepared by the legendary Barny Haughton, founder of Bordeaux Quay, and listen to some really amazing local spoken word talents.
The evening was BYOB and we set up an exchange point so dinner guests could take £B across the road to Bristol News, an off license in Jamaica street that accepts £B and TXT2PAY (they do not accept any other electronic payments! AWESOME!). They weren’t perhaps expecting dozens of students to turn up with £B notes so it must have made a really cool impression on them! We gave a great presentation to the assembled crowd, explaining and promoting £B and TXT2PAY with my favourite slogan: Keep Bristol Weird!
The meal started with mezze of roasted aubergine and tomato, cold curried cauliflower salad and tzatziki dip with beautiful hot herby garlic tiger bread. Main dish was rice, vegetables and salad, full of flavour, the pudding was watermelon and mint with a berry coulis. Sacks of bread were strewn around the room, so it was obvious that many more than 100 people could have been accommodated for the garlic bread, and all of it had been destined for the bin! Mind-boggling.