What do wonky carrots, misshapen potatoes and fresh bread crusts all have in common? They are all perfectly edible yet end up in supermarket bins. In fact, an estimated 20-40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected even before they reach the shops; there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just that they do not match the supermarkets’ exceptionally strict cosmetic standards. For Tristram Stuart, the job of uncovering the global food waste scandal started when he was 15. And in 2009, on a quest to tackle food waste, he organised the first ever Feeding the 5000 event in London, which has now taken off on a global scale.
Earlier this month, as part of TSIC’s pro-bono initiative to support and advise early-stage social purpose organisations, we were excited to meet Tristram and the Feeding the 5000 team to spend two hours looking at their fundraising and communications strategy. The more we learnt about the work of Feeding the 5000, the more impressed we became at the impact the campaign has already had on tackling the issue of food waste through building awareness amongst consumers and inspiring action from corporations and governments around the need for change.
It was startlingly clear from the campaign’s work so far that the public find it socially unacceptable to waste food on the colossal scale it is currently. Feeding the 5000’s events have shown that if we can inspire people to make noise about it, tell corporations about it, and tell governments we want to see an end to food waste, we do have the power to change not only the way that businesses work but also individuals’ behaviour and attitudes. Feeding the 5000 is in the business of changing culture and we had a lively discussion about how the organisation could best capture and communicate the impact it is achieving.
Initiatives like Feeding the 5000 have paved the way for similar ideas such as Disco Soupe in France and Schnipple Disko in Germany. These youth-led events aim to raise awareness about food waste through soups and salads made from salvaged fruits and vegetables, and combining it with some great music. A simple, yet effective, recipe for success!
At TSIC, we’re very excited by the potential this movement has to create systematic change in the way that food waste is tackled and understood, and are eager to see where they will go next!