It’s ridiculous – as well as disheartening - which is why activists around the planet are doing their part to help reduce food waste and feed others with the discarded scraps. This is exactly what Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, is doing in Armley, Leeds. The social entrepreneur has created an empire of ‘social cafes’ through which to cook up stews, casseroles, soups and cakes with the unwanted products from supermarkets, independent grocers, and food banks.
The most unique aspect of the business model is that it has a “pay as you feel” rule. This policy encourages patrons to pay what they feel they can pay. If that amounts to nothing, then they can work for their meal.The Independent reports that in only 10 months, Smith has helped feed 10,000 people on 20 tons of unwanted food. In addition, he’s raised over 30,000 pounds (UK).
It’s difficult for entrepreneurs inspired to repurpose food to carry out their vision, as in many areas of the world, retailers can be prosecuted if they sell food after the use-by date. The ‘best-before’ date is allowed, which is why Smith’s organization wants the law to be changed to prevent supermarkets from disposing of so much food at the fear of prosecution.
Thankfully, progress is being made. Earlier this year, France made it illegal for supermarkets to purposely waste food. Stores must now donate unsold food to charity, for animal feed, or for farming compost.
Unfortunately, groups like Smith’s are often looked down upon because they seek food others deem not optimal for consumption. With a change of perspective, however, everyone might come to understand that a good share of food thrown into dumpsters is perfectly edible. Recognizing this sooner rather than later would benefit everyone on the planet.
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