Just Eat it: A Food Waste Story

January 30th, 2018

Get ready to rethink your fridge as a new food waste documentary reveals how your household habits could be the cause of the global food waste crisis.

The Canadian documentary – Just Eat it: A Food Waste Story – follows director Grant Baldwin and producer Jen Rustemeyer as the couple embarks on a six-month journey into the world of food waste.

The self-confessed “food fans” set out two simple rules: They must only eat discarded food or what friends and family make. As they documented their personal journey, the global scale of the food crisis begins to hit home.

“We are causing climate change from our kitchen waste bins,” said author Jonathan Bloom during an interview in the documentary, 97 per cent of which ends up in landfill or for incineration.

Food waste in the home was one of the main focuses of the film, with Dana Gunders, senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), telling the filmmakers that households generate more food waste than restaurants or farms.

Household Waste

 The average American bins 15 to 25 per cent of their shopping, Ms Gunders said, equal to leaving the supermarket with four shopping bags and leaving one behind every time you shop.

Although the documentary dishes up some hard truths about our contribution to food waste, it also presents some clear ideas about how people can be proactive in saving food such as ‘eat me first’ food bins.

Speaking to The Green News, Ms Rustemeyer said the biggest thing she has taken away from making the documentary is that no one supports wasting food.

“People love food, and no one is pro-food waste. From restaurants to citizens, the response was genuine surprise and then anger at the situation. Most people just haven’t been educated about the situation,” she said.

Ms Rustemeyer also touched on the “greater respect” she has for the people working in the food system, explaining when we waste food, we waste their hard work.  

Although the couple’s trips to their favourite dumpster are now only on occasion, they continue to select the ugly fruit people often avoid buying, support local growers and buy food with less packaging. “We are very aware of leftovers and compost fanatically, and I work a lot with community and school groups to breed awareness of food waste,” Ms Rustemeyer added.

Fresh Food In Garbage Can to Illustrate Waste Photo: USDA

Play Your Part in Prevention

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a practical, easy to follow A to Z guide of how to best prevent food waste. The Stop Food Waste Programme helps identify everyday food items that usually end up in the bin, as well as providing information on buying, storing, freezing, cooking and using up food.

Speaking to The Green News, Shane Colgan from the EPA’s Resource Efficiency Unit shared some of his top tips to prevent waste, such as taking a picture of your fridge before you head to the supermarket so that you don’t double up on food.

He said that another trick is to serve dinner by placing the pot in the middle of the table to enable people to take what they want, as leftovers on plates are usually destined for the bin.

A food waste victory came last Thursday when retailers in Ireland signed up to the EPA’s Food Waste Charter. This will provide the agency with much-needed data to evaluate the sources of food waste.

Mr Colgan also revealed that a new RTÉ show is set to air in mid-March called Grow, Cook, Eat. Sponsored by the EPA and Bord Bia, the show will focus on growing your own fruits and vegetables and raise issues such as food waste, sustainable gardening and how to use your brown compost bin correctly.

You can rent or buy Just Eat it: A Food waste story and visit stopfoodwaste.ie for additional information on preventing food waste.

About the Author

Sorcha McManigan

Sorcha has a Degree Honours in Journalism with French from DIT and is passionate about social issues and radio production

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