We have been dealing with the issue of food waste in agriculture since our event Thousand kilos in 2014. It took place at the National Theatre Piazzetta in Prague: for a symbolic price we were selling vegetable that could not be sold in stores because of its appearance. The vegetable came from a farmer who informed us about the huge amount of his production he must regularly throw away due to appearance standards.
The topic intrigued us and so in 2015 we launched a project called Gleaning and went to the fields to harvest such off-size and off-shape vegetable. On these 18 expeditions, we had managed to collect almost 8 tons of cauliflowers, turnips, carrots, potatoes, lettuces… all of which went straight to food banks.
Our campaign I’m ready
In the season of 2016, we would like to continue with gleaning. But we would also like to focus on the issue in more depth and try to find its structural solution. We have accepted the challenge and came up with the campaign I’m ready.
Why “I ‘m ready”?
We met with representatives of a few chain stores and they told us that costumers are not ready to buy non-standard looking fruit and vegetable. The emphasis on appearance beats the importance of taste quality and the reasons to discard the crops are often bizarre: an apple having a wrong skin shade, a cauliflower with too large a head, a carrot that is unevenly orange, a pepper with too big a stem etc. We think that the consumers actually are ready and that is why we considered the motto a fitting name for our campaign.
What is the goal of the campaign?
Our campaign aims to inform the public that up to 20% of total agricultural production does not reach the consumers because of the strict appearance standards. As part of our campaign, we created a website, www.jsempripraven.cz, where you can learn more about the issue and sign our pledge to join the others who are willing to buy“crooked” vegetables and fruits or eat them in the form of meals or products.
In cooperation with the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, we will organize round tables with experts: they will take place in November and host all kinds of people from the field (farmers, businessmen, logisticians, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and innovators). Together we will try to find a way to utilise this omitted part of production. Because lowering food waste in agriculture will not have only ecological benefits – it can also be an economic opportunity. The ideas that are to come from the round tables should therefore be profitable.
We are conducting a research
We are currently investigating how much of the production in the Czech Republic gets thrown away. This area is not properly explored – not even on the world scale – and farming products that have been discarded or left on fields to plough under are not kept on file. That is why we are conducting in-depth interviews with farmers that will serve as data for the round tables.
And what else to look forward?
As mentioned earlier, we will continue gleaning and are also planning a demonstration at a luxury restaurant of how the “crooked” fruits and vegetables might be utilised. Also as part of our campaign, the artist Uli Westphal will be showing his work in the outdoor gallery Artwall in Prague. In one of his projects, Uli focuses on the botanical anomalies of various fruits and vegetables.
The topic is important because…
… throwing away food is not economical and negatively impacts the environment (we use scarce resources in growing food we do not eventually eat). With consumers being the first, agriculture holds the second place in food waste – 34% of the total amount of debased food falls on agriculture. But at the same time, it is situated at the very beginning of the food chain. How much food is wasted before it gets on our table…?