Have you heard about The Real Junk Food Project?
You have to find out about it, because this UK project is revolutionizing the way we think about food waste and how we deal with food insecurity.
What is it…
Growing rapidly in number across the UK, the Real Junk Food cafes receive donations of food that will be wasted by large grocers, wholesalers, bakers, and the like. Inventive cooks create delicious meals on an-ever changing menu, and serve it on a “pay what you can” basis.
How it changes the food charity model…
Many charity food provisioning schemes rely on donated food near its expiry date that would otherwise be “garbage. “ However, this system is criticized as demoralizing for vulnerable, food-insecure recipients and creates a stigmatizing attitude that “beggars can”t be choosers.”
TRJFP, however, upends this idea. Because of the pay-as-you-feel policy, the system “transcends monetary transactions.” Diners can pay as little or as much as they wish, but are also free to “pay” in alternative ways: by trading, or donating skills and time. This breaks down the social stratification dividing communities along class and wealth lines. The cafes serve as hubs for social change by building community, and providing dignified access to terrific food to relieve the burden of hunger and poverty.
It’s a revolutionary take on food waste…
Using this unconventional business model, the RJFP makes no attempt to profit off the broken system, where one-third of food is wasted, totalling $750 billion globally on an annual basis. Rather, the food itself—lacking economic worth to the retailers who donate it—is re-valued when cooked into these gourmet meals. That this food can on one hand be deemed “garbage,” but on another, provide nutritious, wholesome meals to hundreds of diners a day highlights the absurdity of the contemporary food system and the arbitrariness of “waste” definitions.
The RJFP calls attention to food waste in a beautiful way that provides value on countless levels, to individuals, communities, and food systems.
Check out this terrific 10-minute documentary. Some of the quotes are simply golden! Maybe it’ll be an inspiration? When can we see Real Junk Food Cafes in North America?