Since reading about the scale of the food waste scandal in Europe a good few years ago I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tristram Stuart on the mighty Feeding the 5k campaign which seeks to illustrate and change the current broken food system focusing on the major issues around food production within the industry and our homes.
In the UK alone we waste a staggering twenty million tonnes of food each year which ends up in landfills and being ploughed back into the land.
On Friday evening chef come food waste activist Tom Hunt with the help of his great team, Tom’s Feast put together a feast of Moorish inspired nosh at The Russet in Hackney Downs Studios, a creative space and café for the local community. The owner Steve Wilson is behind the People’s Kitchen, a food waste and community cooking project at Passing Clouds in Dalston which runs most Sundays.
We arrived to a very welcoming space with five wooden dinner tables lit with candle light and freshly cut daffodils. Pieces of fruit were handed out to us vegetarians and pescatarians.
The canapés stared to roll thick and fast, beetroot hummus with an elegant sprig of dill, potted hare with chili & cacao, smoked salmon & ricotta and cod’s cheek croquettes served with a dill aioli (I think). The highlights being the potted hare and the sweet cod’s cheek croquettes.
We were then seated with an eclectic range of others all happy to feast together on seasonal, organic produce that had been either rejected due to cosmetic reasons, basically not being ‘pretty’ enough or too ‘rude’ and surplus food donated through a range of supplies such as Abel & Cole, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Next came the warming Harira soup with E5 sourdough. We were then asked to take a deep breath and make as much space as possible for the main course of salt boiled lamb’s head and tongue which I was expecting to be an almost biblical affair. This was served not as an actual ‘head’ on large wooden chopping boards with roasted fennel, baba ganoush, cumin spiked hummus, lentils with salsa verde, mouth cleansing waver thin kolrabi and enough celeriac boulangere to capsize a small fishing boat. Falafels with tangey harissa were served for the non meat eaters.
After more chatter and booze the dessert arrived, orange jelly with thick rhubarb ice cream on ginger biscotti. Sadly my pictures don’t do this immense feast justice due to the subtle lighting!
Sharing and celebrating food brings us all together which is a great start, but what’s next?
If you are not familiar with FoodCycle and FareShare you should have a read of all the work they have been doing. These two fantastic charities are actively redistributing surplus food within disadvantaged parts of the community with a crew of determined volunteers.
You can also discover more about the work Tom’s Feast does in the UK and sign the pledge to reduce your household food waste and encourage businesses to do the same. It’s a great opportunity to reduce your environmental impact and ease the pressure on global food supplies.