Leftover love


Look at these delicious dishes: tasty vegetables, cooked with fresh herbs and probably some very rich olive oil, seasoned with sustainability and inspiration.

The dishes were served at a gourmet brunch in Helsinki earlier this year. What made the event special is that all food was destined to the bin. All ingredients were past their sell-by date, donated by grocery stores. The gourmet brunch by Måndag was fully booked and the event even made it to the evening news.

According to UNEP and FAO research, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year. Hold on. One third? Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes? That’s insane.

In Finland, an average person wastes 23 kilos of food annually. In practice, we’re talking about buying half a kilo of carrots every Saturday and throwing them away on Wednesday. That’s beyond insane. The same Finnish research (link in FIN, summary in English) that gives us the statistics, tells us that we mainly throw away vegetables, home cooked food, and milk products.

How many waste food dinners, lunches and brunches we could organize with all that wasted food? In neighbouring Sweden, they are trying to mix romance and leftovers on a site called Restdejting (link in SWE): announce your leftover lasagna and ask for a special someone to bring the salad. No food wasted AND a date. Win-win!

But why do we need to make it special? Why do we pay 15 euros for a brunch made of waste food, and at the same time, we throw away appalling amounts of food at home?

I’m the perfect example myself. I read the statistics, I try to understand the magnitude of the problem, and yet, I can’t seem to get rid of those old yoghurts and tomatoes in my fridge. Maybe I’m only missing the imagination and inspiration, and that’s where the ‘special’ comes in.

Ask yourself, what drives you forward? What pushes you to take that first step? For me it’s seeing things in new light, finding new ways of doing things, and doing it together with other people. If it’s cool waste food brunches, fancy dinners and hopeful dates we need to make the problem visible for more people, to see the change in attitudes and actions, so be it. Let’s make it fun. Start from your family and friends. Gather round yesterday’s leftovers, come together when you normally wouldn’t, season the special dinner mix with inspiration and sustainability, and voilà!

With this blog post I’m calling for more awareness and immediate action to reduce food waste & entering a blogging contest organized by UNEP, in partnership with TreeHugger, for the 2013 World Environment Day.

You are welcome to like, comment and share. In Twitter, please use #WED2013. Thank you!

Photo © Måndag

♠ In the meantime: I heard the City of Helsinki is going to try anonymous job applications. This means all applicants are more on the same line, with the employer focusing on the skills and experience instead of gender, age or origin. Very proud and happy!

♥ Song of the day: Nick Drake, Fruit Tree

15 thoughts on “Leftover love

  1. Such a good thing to be reminded of! Living alone I often find I want something else then what is already in my fridge :/ I will continue to try to change my ways and plan better. Feels so horrible when food goes bad from just sitting on a shelf stairing at me.

  2. There was a story on the BBC just now about vegetables being thrown away in Kenya because they are the wrong shape for the European supermarket buyers…

  3. Johan, thanks for commenting! It’s almost too sad to believe. We seem to have a very strong understanding, maybe unconsciously, of how good food is supposed to look like.

  4. Great blog, Inka! I at least was once again reminded to think a bit more carefully of the food I buy and consume. In Finland for example Stockmann clears out fruit and vegetable that is slightly damaged as the prices they ask for are too much to offer anything that doesn’t look like top notch quality.

  5. Thanks Taina and welcome! I’m sure Stockmann isn’t the only one who does that. If a store sets the prices high, I can kind of understand that everything needs to look top notch. But then again. I wonder how much food is wasted because it doesn’t look appealing enough for us to buy. As Johan mentioned above, some produce doesn’t even make it to the market as it does not look ‘right’…

    • It should pay off for stores to sell ripe/damaged fruits and veggies half off – or at least discounted. But I think they have write-off options that make that kind of business less profitable.

    • Thank you for contacting me! I’m resending my information now. Please kindly let me know if the email does not reach you.

  6. Oh wow. I am so impressed with what has been created here. These big bowls of delicious food are so much more than just that. They look to me like a gift, sustenance, creativity and a commitment to using what we have available to us. To use, not waste. It’s wonderful.

    Thank you for your tweet, I am very happy to be aware of this going on in your country. I’ve not done quite this thing, but do work a lot with food waste. I document my experience on my blog at http://www.foodstinct.com/recycle if you would like to see.

    • Thanks for your comment! I will definitely check out your blog. And what a way to describe it all: gift, sustenance, creativity and a commitment. That’s exactly what it is – nothing less! Cheers!

  7. Dear all, I made it to the top 10 with this blog post. Yay! In practice it means I get to join the second round of blogging. We’ve now been invited to write new blog posts on a certain topic. The new texts will be published on 1 April, and the online voting will be open until 14 April. I’ll share the details once I have a direct link for the new text and voting. Exciting!

  8. Pingback: World Environment Day blogging competition | Yalotar

  9. Pingback: World Environment Day blogging contest, part IV | Yalotar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s