Volunteering with FoodCycle across the Capital

Volunteering with FoodCycle across the Capital

By Libby Brown – Fundraising and Communications Officer at FoodCycle HQ) You hate waste? We hate waste! You hate food poverty? We hate food poverty! And we both agree that it’s ridiculous for food waste and food poverty to exist within the same communities? We’re a match made in heaven – you’re a FoodCycler! We work with over 1,200 volunteers across the UK at our 20 projects, and, without their amazing work, FoodCycle simply wouldn’t be possible. So much of our success is down to our incredibleand, best of all, you can join them! Whether you’re a Masterchef winner in the making or a cooking novice, everyone is welcome to volunteer with FoodCycle. From collecting surplus food to chopping, serving, local outreach or fundraising, anyone can get involved and have fun whilst making a positive difference in the community! Our London Hubs (as of May 2015) Bloomsbury: Sunday mornings FoodCycle Bloomsbury serves a variety of people in the community, including older people, those struggling to get by and people experiencing social isolation. If you’ve got some free time on a Sunday morning, sign up to volunteer and help reach out to more people in the community! “I’m the youngest of ten kids and we didn’t have two pennies to rub together, so it’s in my ethos not to throw away food. Because I’m in the lower end of the market, you know, pensioner, don’t have a lot of money, I notice these things more than the average person does. Prices have gone up so much in the past year. There’s a lot of people round here that would benefit from something like this. The block across from us is full of pensioners. Most of them will live on their own and won’t have facilities to cook in.” * Terry, Guest at FoodCycle Bloomsbury For more information, come visit us at 1pm for Sunday lunch at Somers Town Community Centre on Ossulton Street, or email bloomsbury@foodcycle.org.uk. Hackney: Thursday mornings FoodCycle Hackney opened its doors in January 2015. We’ve welcomed all sorts of volunteers and cooked up some incredible dishes in just a few months! As one of our youngest projects, there are lots of volunteer roles available with Hackney Hub and you would only need to be available between 10am and 3pm on a Thursday. Our community partners Outward are interested in expanding further across the borough – if you would like to get involved with FoodCycle this could be the perfect opportunity to make a real difference! Just email hackney@foodcycle.org.uk for more information on how to become a Hackney Hub Leader, or come and share a meal with us on Thursdays at 12.30pm at the New Kingshold Community Centre, 49 Ainsworth Road (Just off Well Street). Islington: Wednesday mornings Our Islington Hub works in partnership with Islington Mind, a fantastic mental health charity. We serve people including mental health service users and those experiencing homelessness and/or long-term unemployment, providing a tasty, nutritious meal in a safe and welcoming environment. We serve a healthy lunch every Wednesday at 1pm – if you’ve got some spare time, come down to visit or sign up to volunteer today! “I live locally in Islington, and I found out about FoodCycle. I used to work for Bank of America and I was pensioned off due to ill health… with this problem I was having suicidal thoughts. I was in a crisis home for a few weeks and then I came here [Islington Mind] and I come here daily, and I come to the FoodCycle every Wednesday. I think the food is very good – you lot do a superb job. I would describe it as a little café, a nice little café, you know, like a café by a river or something where you would go for walks and have a nice little meal, that’s how I would describe it. I’ve met new people. There are people with various problems here, but when you get here your problems go away, so to speak. We can sit down and have a nice meal, which you lot do a superb job in doing. You know I would like to help out one day.” – Rebecca, FoodCycle Islington Guest LSE: Sunday afternoons Contrary to its name, FoodCycle’s longest-running Hub is not just for students – anyone can volunteer with us! FoodCycle LSE cooks and serves a meal for those living with HIV/AIDs and their families every Sunday at 5pm. We work with The Food Chain to help offer nutritional support to vulnerable people across the capital. We have opportunities to volunteer in the kitchen from 1.30 – 5pm every Sunday or to host our guests and serve the food from 4 – 7pm. If you’d like to join FoodCycle LSE, sign up to volunteer or email lse@foodcycle.org.uk for more information. Peckham: Saturday afternoons FoodCycle Peckham is one of our newest Hubs and is based in All Saints Church Hall, on Blenheim Grove. Our community meals are open to all and brought to you with the help of many friendly, enthusiastic local volunteers. The meal is served at 5.30pm on a Saturday afternoon. Plenty of volunteering opportunities are available and we welcome a wide variety of local and London-wide people every week. For more information on how you can get involved, email peckham@foodcycle.org.uk or come down to visit us this weekend! Wandsworth: Friday mornings Our Wandsworth Hub serves a range of local people, including asylum seekers and refugees, people living on low incomes and those experiencing social isolation in the community. We cook from 10.30am on Friday mornings and serve a three-course lunch at 1pm at the United Reformed Church on Rookstone Road. Check out the feature on ITV!

For more information, email wandsworth@foodcycle.org.uk or sign up to volunteer and get stuck in! Pie in the Sky Community Cafe FoodCycle also runs a community café at the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets. We serve tasty, affordable meals from 8.30 to 3.30 every Monday to Friday. If you’d like to develop your skills in the catering industry, gain vital work experience, or just learn to cook tasty food, then volunteering at Pie in the Sky could be perfect for you! Find out more about our volunteering and training opportunities or email sian@foodcycle.org.uk for more information.

 

GUEST POST: Supermarkets – The price we pay for cosmetic standards

Photography by Cyril Caton

We in the UK have become quite dislocated from how our food is produced and where it comes from – the vast majority of us having no relationship with or knowledge of the people who produce the food we rely on.

With over 80% of the UK’s population living in an urban environment, and 7 of the biggest supermarket chains having an 87% market share of the food we buy, it’s not surprising that that’s the case.

When it comes to the food we eat, we have relinquished much of the decision-making process to corporations whose actions are motivated by profit, and not by the interests of consumer wellbeing or that of the planet. We may be the ones who decide what to buy in the supermarket, but the choice we have is dictated to us by what they stock on their shelves – everything is pre-packed and preselected.

In the name of convenience we have put our trust in supermarkets to do right by us, and so tend to put little thought into the consequences of consuming what we do – rarely questioning how it was produced or where it came from. We don’t tend to concern ourselves with the true cost of buying almonds from California, where a severe drought has been on-going for 4 years; or prawns from Thailand where slave labour is used in the fishing and processing of prawns supplied to European supermarkets.

What is true of imported food is also true of British produce – there are hidden costs associated with buying our fruit and vegetables from supermarkets. They do their best to hide the consequences of their business practices – ensuring we are oblivious to the true cost of having perfectly straight carrots, or apples that are free from blemishes and just the right size. They hide the impact of a system they have engineered, and that we ultimately endorse through our support for them.

The cost of supermarket-imposed cosmetic standards on farmers is huge, and is one of the main reasons for around 30% of food grown on UK farms not making it off the trees or out of the ground.

This in turn means that 30% of all the water, pesticides, transport and other inputs used in farming this food is also wasted. According to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, at a global level approximately 550 billion cubic metres of water is wasted each year in growing crops that never actually reach the consumer.

Wasting food and all that has gone into producing the food is impacting on the major issues of our time – from food security to climate change, not to mention putting the survival of smaller farms at risk, and the health and livelihood of the farmers themselves.

Supermarkets claim that it is we, the consumers, who demand cosmetically perfect fruit and veg. But in a system created and sustained by the supermarkets, to great benefit to themselves, I think it’s more reasonable to assume the practice is driven by a desire to cut costs and maximise profits, rather than a desire to pander to consumer demand.

That said we have been complicit in the creation of this deeply flawed system – by not concerning ourselves with the impact of how our food is being produced. Relinquishing the decision-making process when it comes to the food we eat has come at a great cost to our society and the environment – both nationally and globally, and we must start holding the supermarkets to account – we can ill afford to let things continue on as they are, and despite an awareness within the industry as to the destructive impact wasting food has, things won’t change without us demanding it.

So while we may feel powerless in the face of large, multinational corporations, they are ultimately dependent on us consumers – without us they are nothing.

Collectively we need to push for change in their business practices – to end the imposition of absurd cosmetic standards and demand they sell ‘wonky’ fruit and veg. We need to push them to take all the necessary steps they can towards creating a fairer and more sustainable food system – a system that ultimately doesn’t result in millions of tonnes of edible food being needlessly left to rot every year.

This article was written by Chris King, the founder of ‘Food Is…‘ project.  

Read more about Chris and his project here.

ROUNDUP: Waste Works at the IFE 2015

n March nearly 30,000 attended the IFE, the UK’s largest International Food and Drink Event, in London.

But this year it had a special addition…Waste-Works.

Source: http://www.pro2pac.co.uk/g/2015/logos/ww_header_200.jpg
Source: http://www.pro2pac.co.uk/g/2015/logos/ww_header_200.jpg

New for 2015, the Waste-Works exhibition had an exciting line-up of leading technology company and services providers who are finding new ways to tackle waste, improve efficiencies and save money.

The event is unique in the UK and the first to all cover the full circle from farm to fork to fertiliser.

Talk and seminars took place throughout the event at ‘Waste-Works Live’ showcasing the work of companies and organisations  including FoodSave, an initiative to help London businesses save on food and money. Read our article to find out more about their work.

by Hollie Goodall

Finders Eaters was there to bring you the highlights….

Audio and video editing by Hollie Goodall

Photography by Su-Min Hwang

Click here to find out more about Waste Works and register for next year.

Waste-Works took place alongside IFE, the UK’s largest food & drink event and Pro2Pac, the UK’s only food & drink packaging event.

Over the course of four days, it saw an audience of over 30,000.

Area of focus included waste management/minimisation, waste storage/collection, reprocessors & recycling and renewable energy.

by Su-Min Hwang

Watch another version the audio slide show, giving the overview of the event:

Edited by Su-Min Hwang

LIVEBLOG: Compost Celebration and Giveaway

Creative Commons License:   http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost
Creative Commons License: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost

Tomorrow we’ll be liveblogging from the Compost Celebration and Giveaway in Willesden.

As part of compost awareness month, West London Waste have teamed up with Brent Council’s waste and recycling partner, Veolia, to host this year’s giveaway.

We’ll be speaking to experts in Roundwood Park to get tips on composting, food recycling and reducing food waste at home.

10 tonnes of compost is due to be delivered and residents will be able to take home up to 100 litres free- but don’t forget to bring your spade!

Field to Fork, a North West London based cooperative committed to sustainable food production, will also be talking to us about their local, seasonal produce and plans to engage with the community by offering jobs and training to local people.

Read our liveblog here.

By Hollie Goodall

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 10 tonnes of compost were given out to the local residents at Roundwood Park in Willesden from 10am-3pm on Sunday 24th May.
  • The compost has been produced from garden and kitchen waste from different local authorities, including Harrow and Hounslow.
  • Experts from West London Waste and Keep Britain Tidy gave tips on composting and reducing food waste.
  • The day was also joined by Field to Fork Organics, who talked about their local seasonal produce and sharing advice on how to run your own allotment.
  • The next giveaway will be in Hounslow, from 10am-3pm on Saturday 30th May.

By Su-Min Hwang

Source: http://westlondonwaste.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/head.jpg
Source: http://westlondonwaste.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/head.jpg

Livebloggers: Su-Min and Hollie

Storify edited by Su-Min Hwang and Hollie Goodall

Seeing through the lens of Chris King

chris-king-photography_green-surge-01

‘Food Is…’

Chris King is the man behind ‘Food Is…’, a unique photography project that raises awareness about the solutions to food waste.

His background in being involved in grassroots activities on environmental and social justice issues, along with working and travelling in various countries has given him an urge to do something about injustices around the world.

“I feel food waste is a ‘silver bullet’ of sorts for many of the issues of our time. If you impact positively on food waste, you are impacting on climate change, food and water security, deforestation, the power of biotech firms, and various other critical issues.”

Started over a year ago, his subjects have included The Pig Idea, The Dragon Café, and Dinner Exchange East (See our live blog on their Calypso Dinner Exchange event here).

Brigida, founder of Dinner Exchange East carries some of the food they have gathered from local markets - saving it from the bin
Brigida, founder of Dinner Exchange East carries some of the food they have gathered from local markets – saving it from the bin. © Chris King / Food Is…

If you are expecting to see a series of photos of piles of food thrown out in the bin, you will be surprised.

In his quietly spoken Irish accent, Chris tells me that his aim is to focus on the solutions rather than the issue itself, another reason why many of his pictures revolve around people involved in organisations and initiatives working to reduce the amount of food waste generated by our society.

“It’s hard to generate any sort of emotion within people for a rotten apple. So I felt the need to explore the human element of food waste – the stories of those people trying to reduce the amount of edible food going to waste, and so the project has evolved to document people, their activities, and what motivates them to do what they do.”

In his portraits, people look straight into the lens – directly into the viewer’s eyes. It’s difficult to break away from their gaze.

“I made a conscious decision to put my camera on a tripod and take static portraits with a remote control”. Although he prefers taking dynamic photographs with his camera in his hand, he felt that “exposing the viewer to one action shot after another” was getting repetitious. He wanted to give the viewers a breathing space to reflect, and that is how his current approach came to be.

“It was my first time trying static portraits using a tripod. I still find imposing myself on the people and disrupting what they’re doing difficult. I prefer blending into the scene – after a while they don’t even know I’m there. This technique of stopping and putting my camera on the tripod has forced me to really think about how to represent my subjects”.

Martin, Gleaning Co-ordinator at the Gleaning Network at work in an orchard, gathering apples that would otherwise go to waste
Martin, Gleaning Co-ordinator at the Gleaning Network at work in an orchard, gathering apples that would otherwise go to waste. © Chris King / Food Is…

Photo diary

Unlike many other traditional documentary photography projects where the whole package of photos are showcased once the project has been completed, ‘Food Is…’ is in a photo diary format. This means the viewers can access Chris’ portraits and blog posts as soon as they are generated, and be part of the journey along with Chris as he explores this on-going issue.

“I wanted to have a conversation with people throughout the creation of the work and share this experience”.

Bringing the subjects alive as much as possible is at the heart of ‘Food Is…’, and you’ll find much more than beautiful documentary photography on the website. His blog posts are informative yet personal, and his multimedia work is engaging and thought-provoking.

Gleaners form a human train in order to carry as many crates of gleaned cabbages to the van as possible
Gleaners form a human train in order to carry as many crates of gleaned cabbages to the van as possible. © Chris King / Food Is…

Kit

Chris’ favoured lenses on the scene are two prime lenses (50mm f/1.4, 24mm f/2.8), where focal length is fixed. He prefers them because he feels they are better suited to the dynamic environment he is working in.

“I think zoom lenses add a layer of complexity when trying to compose a shot. I think using them would break my flow, and so I prefer to use prime lenses and use my feet instead. Zoom lenses are more suitable for when you have more time to spend on composition. With Food Is… I need to be over people’s shoulders, working in tight spaces, and responding to the scene as it unfolds.”

He shoots on Nikon D800.

Kent Gleaning Co-ordinator stands in a field of cauliflowers that are being left to rot
Kent Gleaning Co-ordinator stands in a field of cauliflowers that are being left to rot. © Chris King / Food Is…

Future plans

The most memorable organisation for Chris so far has been The Gleaning Network – a project working on a national level, that collects fresh fruit and vegetables from farms across the UK for redistribution to organisations such as FareShare.

“I think, seeing what I’ve seen and based on the limited knowledge I have, the greatest amount of change in the shortest amount of time could happen at the farm level. There are thousands of farm in the UK – many producing tonnes of food waste, while there are tens of millions of consumers who function as individuals – with their own tastes, habits and needs and producing relatively little waste. So when it comes to trying to reduce the amount of edible food needlessly going to waste, why not focus more on those few thousand farms, who likely function in a somewhat similar manner, than on the millions of individuals who each function in their own particular way?”

Inspired by the work of The Gleaning Network, Chris is planning to create a web documentary on the topic of food waste generated on farms in the UK.

To view more of Chris’ work, visit http://www.chriskingphotography.com and http://foodis.org.uk.

All photographs and videos in this post are by Chris King

GUEST POST: Recipe for homemade lip scrub

Mary is a hip, chic blogger rocking the zero-waste lifestyle.  She writes about everything from fashion, make up, eco-lunches and plastic-free living. I fell in love with her recent post on making foundation out of arrowroot powder, and have asked her to create another recipe for our readers.

Here is how to make a lip scrub just using homemade beet root powder and shea butter:

Photo by Gittemarie Johansen

1. Dry the beet root, either in the oven (lowest heat for 6 hours) or in the sun (5 days)

2. Blend the beetroot.

3. Add soft or melted shea butter and mix it in a container (The recycled container I used, once was a solid perfume that I emptied)

That’s it!

For her tips on upcycling, watch her video here: