THINK.EAT.SAVE: Preventing food wastage with OzHarvest in Sydney

A diner wanders amongst OzHarvest's temporary garden.
A diner wanders amongst OzHarvest’s temporary garden.

Tired of hearing that $10 billion of food wasted in Australia each year, OzHarvest reached out to Sydney-siders to share some food-saving hints and tips.

Yellow banners brightened the usually grey-slated Martin Place as OzHarvest held its second THINK.EAT.SAVE food awareness day. Though the square plays regular host to performers, and major social justice campaigns, it was great to see the positive turnout for one centred around reducing food wastage. Teaming up with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Sydney OzHarvest chapter transformed rescued vegetables, grains and fruit into a Surplus Vege Tagine with Rescued Pilaf Rice. For dessert there was a Saved Apple Peach and Vanilla Stew with Brasserie Bread Crumble. 

The delicious food: Surplus Vege Tagine with Rescued Pilaf Rice. For dessert – Saved Apple Peach and Vanilla Stew with Brasserie Bread Crumble.
The delicious food: Surplus Vege Tagine with Rescued Pilaf Rice. For dessert – Saved Apple Peach and Vanilla Stew with Brasserie Bread Crumble.

THINK.EAT.SAVE: Preventing food wastage with Oz Harvest in Sydney_brendonthesmilingchef_1

The fabulous foodies: Guillaume Brahimi, Maeve O’Meara, Terry Durack, Jill Dupleix.
The fabulous foodies: Guillaume Brahimi, Maeve O’Meara, Terry Durack, Jill Dupleix.
Getting ready for the action!
Getting ready for the action!

Tag #mealforameal in your food photos and Virgin will donate a free meal to someone who needs it.

Maeve O’Meara, Jill Dupleix, Terry Durack, Neil Perry, Jared Ingersoll, Anna Lisle and Guillaume Brahimi were among the fabulous foodies cooking and serving bowlfuls of food to the masses. The National Sikh Council of Australia happily passed round tasty Chapatis and dips made from rescued veg, while the Youth Food Movement ran a play dough challenge where participants had seconds to mould a fruit or vegetable. Virgin Mobile contributed to the cause with garnishes of lemons, herbs and flavoured oils, and a unique tagging initiative. This campaign, specifically for social media users who share pictures of their food, invites the public to include the hash-tag #mealforameal with their photos. For every tag, Virgin will donate a free meal to someone who needs it.

Getting my meal from Maeve O’Meara and Terry Durack
Getting my meal from Maeve O’Meara and Terry Durack
Jill Dupleix and Jared Ingersoll
Meeting Jill Dupleix and Jared Ingersoll
Members of the National Sikh Council of Australia serve chapatis and dips made from the rescued produce.
Members of the National Sikh Council of Australia serve chapatis and dips made from the rescued produce.
THINK.EAT.SAVE: Preventing food wastage with Oz Harvest in Sydney_brendonthesmilingchef_11
The Youth Food Movement tent and their play-dough challenge!
Virgin Mobile promises to donate a meal for every mention of #mealforameal on social media.
Virgin Mobile promises to donate a meal for every mention of #mealforameal on social media.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), roughly one third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. Australians alone waste up to $10 billion of food each year. In a panel discussion held at the Martin Place amphitheatre, founder and CEO of OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn, said that it wasn’t enough for people to put the blame on supermarkets and someone else. Each individual has to take responsibility for their actions and work out strategies to reduce wastage.

The Think.Eat.Save panel discussion in Martin Place featuring: Ronni Kahn, Joost Bakker, Professor Bill Pritchard, Costa Georgiadis, Robert Pascoe, Alex Iljadica, Joanna Savill and James Viles
The Think.Eat.Save panel discussion in Martin Place featuring: Ronni Kahn, Joost Bakker, Professor Bill Pritchard, Costa Georgiadis, Robert Pascoe, Alex Iljadica, Joanna Savill and James Viles

“You’ve got to be curious about food and do things to make other uses for it.”

Kahn was joined by James Viles from Biota Dining in Bowral, who shared his strategy for reducing wastage in the kitchen. He said, “You’ve got to be curious about food and do things to make other uses for it.” Viles described his experience of organic lettuces, grown in Biota’s onsite kitchen-garden, which, ‘weren’t pretty enough for a salad.’ Rather than throwing them out, Viles and his team ferment the leaves and serve the pickle in the first course of their degustation menus.

Diners were invited to donate to OzHarvest and place a pledge in their temporary garden.
Diners were invited to donate to OzHarvest and place a pledge in their temporary garden.

The main message can be summed up in the donation strategy by OzHarvest. For every dollar collected from diners, OzHarvest promised to deliver two meals. Participants were then given a fork with an image of a fruit or vegetable, to place in the ephemeral garden. Large signs encouraged participants to “Think Before You Throw.” It’s quite simple really, all we have to do is ask ourselves, can this food have another use? You could chop up leftover meat and add it to fried rice. Baked fish can easily be flaked and rolled into croquettes, or a thai curry one night could form a tasty pie for lunch the next day. Not only will you satisfy your stomach and wallet, but you can be happy knowing that you are helping the environment too.

Look closely - shameless marketing I know but it had to be done :P
Look closely – shameless marketing I know but it had to be done 😛

What strategies do you have for reducing food wastage? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Simply click on the speech bubble in the bottom right-hand corner.

Happy Cooking and Keep Smiling,

Brendon 🙂

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