Saturday, 28 November 2020

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In Defence of the wonky carrot: A British call for a French revolution against food waste

500British food waste activist Tristram Stuart took his "Feeding the 5,000" across the channel to Paris, Saturday 13 October. The event, aimed at raising public awareness of food waste was renamed "Gobal gachis" in the French capital. In spite of the pouring rain, thousands of Parisiens, some hungry, some not, gathered in front of Hotel de Ville, Paris city hall.

6,000 "plats du jour" were prepared, made entirely out of fresh ingredients that would otherwise go to waste: wonky carrots, misshapen potatoes and other fresh surplus produce.

"We want to start a French revolution against food waste", Mr. Stuart told the 12,000 Parisians who showed up for the event.

The event organized by Canal + television and the Hotel de Ville was intended to promote the documentary "The Global Food Waste Scandal" written by Tristram Stuart, which will be broadcast on 17 October.

"I have always thought that a gigantic feast made from food that would go to waste, is a clear and funny way to address the problem of the scandalous waste of food," said Tristram Stuart who has organized similar events, for instance at Trafalgar Square in London in November 2011.

Not only was a free "curry" provided where people got generous servings of a vegetable curry with pickles served on recyclable plates, but the guests were encouraged to participate.


Under the guidance of celebrity chefs, volunteers from the audience took part in a competition where they were encouraged to make good food from products that typically go bad. Volunteers prepared a "disco soup" cutting vegetables to the sound of music blaring from speakers. Party guides set the mood, encouraging the audience to dance while cutting.

Smoothies were prepared from pineapples and apples and volunteers were trained in making good food from products that are not usually use – like banana peel.

To add to the festive atmosphere "demonstrators" walked around carrying posters and petitions. A TV crew moved around among the audience with a huge, crooked cardboard carrot and a megaphone shouting "Je ne suis pas bel, mais je suis bon". ("I may not be pretty, but I am good.")

"A bent carrot tastes exactly the same as others, and no one cares what the skin of the potato looks like once it has been peeled," Mr. Stuart told the audience.

The 12,000 participants and thousands more, when the film is broadcast on Canal +, were also given a lot of food for thought:

• For every Frenchman and woman 137 kilos of food are wasted every year

• 2,4 million tons of food are wasted in distribution per year

• 1,5 million tons are wasted in restaurants per year

• 197 tons are wasted per establishment in supermarkets per year


Written, Arni Snaevarr, UNRIC Nordic Desk

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