Food waste as a problem has been all over the media recently, but our recent Reel Food Nights screening at the Rocks Windmill looked at the opportunities and silver linings in amongst all the shocking, sad statistics about how much food is thrown away (800,000 tonnes in NSW alone).
To start the night, there were beautiful homemade treats made by our pastry chef from the Guerrilla Dinners, Franca, and designer Lina. For almost all our snacks, we utilised surplus ingredients from the Guerrilla Dinners. DARE food also generously donated some of their bliss balls.
The biscuits used up our surplus parmesan, while our local organic fruits went into the cake and brownies. Our mini muffins contained oodles of remaining pesto and the tomatoes that we dried ourselves.
After much mingling, drinking and nibbling, everyone headed into the windmill to hear Yvonne, Sally and JP bring a little context to the film of the evening, The Gleaners and I.
We wanted to turn the doom-and-gloom guilt that food waste is often associated with on its head. As JP reiterated, it isn’t just a problem, and the solution isn’t always about restricting yourself. The process of turning food waste into opportunities can be full of creativity, generosity and ingenuity. One of the surprising examples he brought along was a bag of fertiliser, created entirely from recycled food waste. The recycling process doesn’t just create fertiliser, it also creates green energy!
That’s not to say that we should no longer worry about wasting the work and resources that have gone into producing our food. Consumer-end waste continues to make up a large proportion of overall food waste, but the process of reducing that doesn’t always have to feel restrictive. For example, JP mentioned that freeing yourself from prescriptive recipes is one of the best ways to utilise what you have and get your creative juices flowing, while also broadening the horizons of your tastebuds. Indeed, that’s where the “menu” for our snacks on the evening started – we looked at what we had at our disposal.
The talks provided a great launchpad for the concept of “gleaning” in the film. Technically gleaning refers to the collection of leftover crops from farmers’ fields after a harvest for market, but the film also frames it as a way of looking at “waste” as a series of possibilities, rather than a problem in itself.
Thanks to everyone who came along!