Food for thought – wonky veg

Feeding the 5000 at Trafalgar Square at lunchtime today

Facts about food waste
* UK households waste 25% of all food bought
* Around 20 to 40% of UK fruit + veg is rejected before reaching the shops – mostly for not matching the supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards
* An estimated 20 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK from the plough to the plate
* 43 million people in the EU, 35 million in the US and 4 million in the UK suffer from food poverty
* The UK, US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations
– Up to half the entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork
– If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have over three times more food than they need
* All the world’s circa one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than ¼ of food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe
* 2.3 million tonnes of fish discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year; 40 to 60% of all fish caught in Europe are discarded – either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system


Who says? And how did I get this info?

Well, I sprinted to Trafalgar Square at lunchtime today to see what the Feeding the 5000 campaign was all about.

It was quite literally that: 5000 portions of veggie curry being given out, free. All made from ingredients that would otherwise have been wasted: surplus food saved from going to food mountains; vegetables rejected due to being the ‘wrong’ shape.

Thankfully, there was a continuous line of people taking up the offer – it seemed very well received (judging by all of the scraped-empty dishes) and smelled gorgeous.

Curry made from food that would have been wasted

Lunch munchers – veggie curry proves popular at Trafalgar Square

A team was on stage in a makeshift kitchen demo-ing cooking with wonky butternut squash, talking through some of the facts above, while volunteer martials distributed flyers and enlightened satisfied munchers of the campaign’s aim which is “to highlight the ease of cutting the unimaginable levels of food waste in the UK and internationally”.

Cooking with wonky vegetables

Ok, so the facts might be shocking, even embarrassing. As a nation, we waste far, far too much food. But how can this wastage be reduced and what’s it got to do with me? It’s not my responsibility is it? …is it? Can I really help to change things?

Maybe we can, collectively. By reducing the amount of food we – as consumers – waste. By recycling more. By composting. And realising what the organisations listed below are doing, not only to raise awareness in general (educating us all is a good thing) but claiming back perfectly good, surplus food that would otherwise go to food mountains and instead feeding those in need.

Food for thought indeed.

More info / useful links:
~ This event’s facebook page

~ FareShare – UK charity fighting hunger, tackling food waste

~ FoodCycle – UK charity, encouraging local communities to set up groups of volunteers to collect surplus produce locally and prepare nutritious meals in unused professional kitchen spaces, with delicious meals then being served to those in need

~ Feeding 5k on Twitter

~ Love food hate waste – campaign by WRAP (government funded) encouraging us all to to be more efficient in our use of materials and recycle more often

~ More of Feeding 5k’s partners

~The Sun supports Fight the wonky veg mountains!

~ *Victory* for wobbly veg Waitrose brings back ugly veg

~ Oliver Rowe’s demo: cooking with butternut squash

Moo-ove over for the elephants!


London’s full of elephants – what a cheerful sight!

Following the success of London’s 2002 Cow Parade outdoor art exhibition, the city is again brightened up for summer 2010 with over 250 painted elephants.

Not only is it a pleasant surprise to turn a corner and be faced with a beautifully designed elephant (or five, as I was, walking to work through Green Park this morning) but the parade raises awareness about endangered Asian elephants.

Exhibits are for sale by auction to raise funds – they’re all listed along with the route map here.

Rebecca Sutherland’s Harapan, #210, is my favourite – with brightly patterned jungle scenes and an orangutan across its face:
Sumatran Orangutan Society’s elephant

More info:
~ Elephant Parade London website
~ Elephant Family org – protecting Asian elephants
~ Elephant spotting photos


1999-2009: Ten Years Saving Orang-utans

From Forest School to Freedom

It’s 10 years since the Nyaru Menteng (NM10) orang-utan rescue and rehabilitation centre opened in Borneo. Last night, founder, Lone Droscher-Nielsen was in London to talk about her team’s work to save this endangered species, and to raise much-needed funds.


Recognisable from TV series’ Orang-utan Diary (BBC) and Orang-utan Island (Animal Planet), Lone’s talk at the Royal Geographical Society, Kensington, covered these issues:

~ rainforest destruction, and the rise in palm oil plantations
~ orang-utans’ loss of habitat, often killed
~ the continued decline of orang-utans at current rates means they may be extinct in a decade
~ the need for sustainable palm oil + protection of the orang-utans’ natural habitat

~ Photos of Lone – Ten Years of NM10
~ Video-clips of Lone’s talk on Ten Years of NM10
~ Borneo Orang-utan Survival website
~ Orangutan Land Trust website

FREE GUIDE: Rainforests – The Burning Issue

This informative, free booklet produced by The Prince’s Trust explains what we can do to save the rainforests before it’s too late.

The Prince of Wales says, “Rainforests provide countless services to humanity, often unnoticed … If we lose the battle against tropical deforestation, we lose the battle against climate change. Please join me in trying to save the rainforests – for the sake of our children and grand-children.”

FREE GUIDE: Rainforests – The Burning Issue
~ Hard copies available from Borders UK, HMV, John Lewis, Waitrose, Waterstones, WH Smith
~ e-booklet here
~ Downloadable Pdf here

Have your voice heard by those who can make change happen:

Campaigns to stop rainforest destruction

This week’s been a hideous week for natural disasters with an earthquake in Sumatra, an under water quake in the Pacific Ocean, a tsunami around Samoa and American Samoa and Typhoon Ketsana and flooding in the Philippines. Thousands of people are dead or missing.

While we can’t prevent natural disasters, we can stop destroying rainforests and minimise global warming to preserve the wonderful world we live in for future generations.

Here’s a couple of outstanding current projects that are gaining momentum:

Orangutan rescue
Orangutans have lost 90% of their habitat – the rainforest – in the last 20 years. They’re an endangered species, declining at a rate of around 4,000 a year. With a total remaining population of less than 50,000 they could be extinct in just over a decade.

Lone Dröscher-Nielsen and the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) team work tirelessly, campaigning to stop clearing the rainforest for palm oil plantations, rescuing orphaned or ill-treated orangutans (who wouldn’t otherwise be able to survive) and rehabilitating them at the Nyaru Menteng orangutan rescue centre in Borneo, with the intention of releasing them back into the wild.

BBC series’ Orangutan Diary with Michaela Strachan helps raise awareness about Lone and the team’s fight to save the rainforest and rescue orangutans, and has made the Nyaru Menteng centre a household name. Next month, November 2009, is the centre’s tenth anniversary and Lone will be sharing her experiences of the past ten years at The Royal Geographical Society in London, the evening of 19th November.

See the flyer and find out how to attend here. Lone will also be signing copies of her new book, From Forest School to Freedom – Ten Years Saving Orangutans.

Prince’s Rainforest Project:
This campaign by the Prince’s Trust encourages everyone to voice their concerns in a ‘Rainforest SOS message’ and create a climate for change.

Play the message from me and some old croakers, here.

~ Orangutan Diary video clips
~ Orangutan Diary – BBC page
~ Prince’s Rainforests Project
~ Rainforest SOS messages by celebrities