Despite what Dr. Seuss might think, we foodies at Finders Eaters know that nobody wants green and eggs and ham for brekkie, but has a culture of increasingly glamorized food, or ‘food porn’ – served up beautifully on the TV by Michelin star chefs – and the prevalence of cocktail and cooking classes offering the skills to ‘wow’ friends at dinner parties – turned us into a bunch of rotten tomatoes where our attitude to food waste is concerned?
Interview with a convert: “The food wasn’t pretty enough”
I spoke to restauranteur and self-professed ‘savvy-saver’ Michelle Brittain, a previous London resident who now runs a successful bar and foodery ‘The Coach House’ (@thecoachy1) in Humberston: Before our interview, Michelle had told me how cookery classes she attended with her partner while living in London had ‘brought them closer to food and each other’ and that she’d always wanted to work in the food industry. “We had an amazing time in the classes at the London Underground Cookery School, as well as L’atelier des Chefs in Oxford Circus” she says, admitting that she herself has considered offering classes a the new establishment.
“I used to hold dinner parties all the time, using family recipes, and fancy skills and techniques I’d learned at the various classes – My friends used to say I was getting so good it was as if I’d been going to food finishing school!’
Michelle: On “discovering my food-friendly”
Explaining when and how her attitude to food began to change: ‘the real turn-around for me’, she says, ‘was when a close friend of mine was looking for a new job in central London, and started volunteering at FoodCycle events around the city to build her skills while she was searching. She asked me to go along one day.’
Having her eyes opened for the first time to a real food waste poverty problem, Michelle said the experience made her feel embarrassed:
“There were people in the City starving and there I was worrying about how wonky my macaroons were! It was…humbling, an eye-opener to say the least.”
Michelle admitted that if she’d made a starter or dessert for a friend that didn’t look right, she’d throw it away and make a new one if it wasn’t ‘pretty enough.’ And in this she’s not alone…
Social media platforms such as Twitter have been inundated with tweets from anti-food waste organisations and communities about the billions of tons of food that is thrown away unnecessarily:
— OLIO (@OLIO_ex) May 5, 2015
LoveFoodHateWaste (@LFHW_UK) have also been rallying support and raising awareness about the environmental and economic detriment that food waste can cause, providing tips to combat the unnecessary throwing away of food, while saving money:
— Love Food Hate Waste (@LFHW_UK) May 6, 2015
— Liz Goodwin (@LizGoodwin) April 27, 2015
But just how wasteful is this culture?
Cookery classes boast of teaching an abundance of culinary and presentational skills…but do they really stigmatise and encourage neglect of ‘ugly’ food that is otherwise still ‘fit for purpose’? Michelle says that she previously ‘didn’t think twice’ about throwing away aesthetically inferior foodstuffs if replacing them with fresh ingredients would make for better presentation; and she suggests that in some of the cookery classes she attended that culture of thinking was shared. However, Jennifer Yong, founder of Jenius Social (@JeniusSocial), a vibrant ‘social food hub’ in Islington, disagrees.
You can read (and listen) to Finders Eaters ‘Industry Response’ interview with Jennifer here on our website!