Whether or not you are in favor of the supply-managed dairy system in Ontario, when 800,000 litres of milk gets dumped, you know that something just isn’t quite right. The Globe and Mail’s article blew this wide open and revealed that the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, when faced with a greater demand for higher fat dairy products, were left with a great deal of skim milk, which was then periodically disposed. This has amounted to 800,000 litres, just since the end of May. The article places heavy blame on the supply-managed market for such ‘chronic overproduction.’ I would hesitate to place the blame so heavily on the market system, as overproduction happens in an open market as well, but rather on the fact that this type of loss is considered acceptable because it is still profitable. Even if producers refuse to sell skim milk at a reduced price, and facilities dehydrating skim milk into powder are full, there are still alternatives to dumping such as donating, or at the very least feeding to animals. What is scandalous is that while the dairy board may feel like this is an affordable loss since farmers are making money from cream and butter, it is still a loss of resources, energy, time, and money that went into producing the dairy.
Clearly there is a problem with the system if this sort of waste is acceptable to the industry. What is reassuring, however, is the public response. People have reacted with shock and anger to the disposal of this quantity of milk, which shows a level of concern that hopefully can impact producers to reconsider their practices and create a more efficient system.
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Some super creative kids from Lammas School in London have made a song and music video to promote their anti-food waste message. This was created by students who teamed up with the non-profit This is Rubbish at the event “Eat My Words” where students used spoken word and music to create awareness of food waste. Check out their video, you’ll find yourself singing this all day.
It seems like every really awesome initiative to combat food waste that I come across lately has its roots or inspiration in Berlin: Disco Soupe is no exception. Disco Soupe was inspired by Tristram Stuart’s ‘Feeding 5000’ and more directly an event by the Slow Food movement in Berlin (“Schnippel Disko”) as part of the larger protest, “We are fed up!” Disco Soupe is centered in France where most of the events are held; however, events have been held in more than twenty-five countries to date and its ‘open source’ format means it is adaptable depending on the context.
But what is a Disco Soupe? It’s basically an anti-waste, food rescue party. Anyone can host an event if they adhere to the tenets and spirit of Disco Soupe. Events are free or pay what you want, must use edible but discarded or donated food that would otherwise be wasted, and welcome everyone and anyone in peeling, cooking and eating the food all the while with music playing. A key tenet is also that food safety rules be observed, and no meal has resulted in health problems to date, showing (yet again) that food rescue doesn’t mean compromising food safety. Disco Soupe is fervently “Anti-Gaspi” (anti-waste) and raises a call to arms in the form of large rescued food dinners that are more a musical cooking and eating festival in their atmosphere. Since its start in 2012, Disco Soupe has served 42,000 meals, at 100 different events.
Disco Soupe is a great example of how people can come together to protest waste, but also to form a part of a community, cook together, and help spread the “Anti-Gaspi” gospel to others. If you want to learn more check out their website or Facebook.
It’s amazing what can happen when you get the public talking about the issue of food waste. While Disco Soupes are not enough to end food waste, they pack a serious punch in driving home the magnitude of waste to the public. As our research has shown, people who are more food conscious (which can start by cooking your own food) and more waste conscious are likely to waste less food. Disco Soupe events are a creative tool in making use of retail waste, but also potentially changing people’s food waste habits in a way that isn’t shaming, but rather enjoyable.
For additional info go to discosoupe.org or for something in English you can read more at http://www.shareable.net/blog/disco-soup-fighting-food-waste-to-a-disco-groove
Farm waste, animal fat, and your everyday food waste could be what fuel your next flight. Farm waste and food waste can be broken down by anaerobic digestion and used to create biogas and power. This fuel is being seen as a potential renewable fuel for the transportation industry and one that creates significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.
United Airlines has already purchased 15 million gallons of renewable jet fuel made from beef tallow by Alt Air Fuels, and plans to use the fuel this year for Los Angeles-to-San Francisco flights. Additionally, the airline has invested $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., which uses household garbage, including food waste, for its fuel feed stock. There is still work to be done in the field (particularly finding efficient locations and ways of creating this renewable energy), but it may not be far off before flying on our food waste becomes the norm.
Our research team recently contributed to a Guelph Tribune article:
“Guelph researchers and local retailers tackle food waste dilemma”
While dehydrating food, or making food powder isn’t a completely novel idea, grad students at Lund University in Sweden are taking a new approach with their product-FoPo: their food powder brand which they believe will help tackle hunger, food waste and nutrition. The freeze-dried food powder has a shelf life of around 2 years, and is made from foods which are nearly past their prime and may not otherwise be sold. The students are taking technology which isn’t exactly new, but proposing a new look at the food value chain. FoPo involves buying up would be food waste and removing the moisture and converting it to powder form, thereby extending its life from a few days to a few years while maintaining its nutritional properties. It can then be resold to stores, food manufacturers and NGOs or relief organizations. The powdered form also maintains nutrients in the food and could be used as an addition to water, smoothies, soups, ice cream, etc. FoPo has already gained momentum as a runner up in the 2014 Food for Thought challenge, winner of the Ben and Jerrry’s Join-Our-Core competition, and a Staff Pick on Kickstarter. The team is now running a pilot program in Manila, Philippines and is to begin working with the United Nation’s Initiative on Food Loss and Waste to find other ways to use FoPo to curb waste and feed the food insecure.