Continuing my food waste theme on this little blog, a good friend of mine recommended I watch “Just Eat It,” a 2014 documentary about a Canadian couple that decides to eat only salvaged food, or food otherwise destined for the landfill, for six months. Along the way, the film features interviews from food waste experts who shock and awe with the literally staggering statistics about the trail of wasted food that extends from the farm to the fridge.
Watch the trailer:
One heartening moment in the film comes when the couple invites a friend over to go shopping in their pantry and fridge — they were rescuing way more food than they could possibly consume on their own, so they started opening their coffers to others. In my own small way I occasionally host leftover dinners and have a few friends over to eat leftovers from the cooking school where I work on the side. It seems like the paradigm shift that has to happen here will have a two-fold benefit, of not just reducing waste, but of also forging community out of shared cooking and eating experiences.
The film ends with the couple hosting about twenty friends for a dinner party comprised entirely of salvaged food. Apparently the husband hadn’t been much of a cook before their project, but as he partook in the dumpster diving and other food rescue activities he became a lot more invested in what was happening in their kitchen and wanted to be involved with the food preparation itself. It’s all part of a continuum: you want to start with good, whole, fresh ingredients, but you need some cooking know-how, and then you also need to have a level of comfort with repurposing and recombining that food so all of the effort going into its production isn’t for naught.
In order to target their own efforts at repurposing, the couple in the film creates a bin in their fridge labeled “Eat Me First!” so that they know to start with those ingredients. I have been thinking about designating the top shelf of my fridge to the items that should be eaten first, but a bin is a great idea. According to the film, 97% of food waste ends up in the landfill, so pretty much anything you and I can do to prevent that will be a step in the right direction.